Category Archives: Life

Think Your Job Sucks? Five Jobs That Suck Worse Than Yours

Everybody likes to piss and moan about their jobs every now and then and how much they totally suck and how much they hate them. Most of the time I love my job and even then I still bitch and moan about aspects of it. Every time I want to complain, I think back to some of the shittiest jobs I saw people doing around the world as I travelled. Here are ten jobs that are guaranteed to be way more rubbish than yours and will give you a new appreciation for just how easy most of us have it.

1. Sulfur Miner, Kawah Ijen, Indonesia

These men walk 3km up the outside of a volcano and then down into the abyss that is the crater of Kawah Ijen to collect the 60 to 80kg of sulfur in their bamboo baskets that they then carry back up to the top of the volcanic crater rim and then 3km back down the hill again. They do this a total of twice a day for a measly pay out of approximately $10-$15 USD a day. They are paid approximately 900 Indonesian Rupiah per kilogram of sulfur. Majority of them have severe lacerations and scars in their shoulders from carrying the baskets and their life expectancy is shortened due to the constant breathing of the noxious sulfur dioxide fumes that come out of the crater. These men however are marvellous and you can read more about it in The Marvellous Men Of Kawah Ijen.

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One of the sulfur miners getting prepared to go up to the crater rim from the centre of the crater.

2. Leather processer, Fez, Morocco

So these guys literally take the skins of the cows or camels and then they soak them in giant vats of pigeon shit which has a high content of ammonia. Not only is this really bad to be breathing in, but it is awful for your skin. I would be pleasantly surprised if any of these guys live longer than fifty years of age given the sheer amounts of chemicals they are exposed to. After they jump in the giant vats of pigeon shit and pull out the hides to rinse them, they then shove them into giant vats of natural dyes (natural also doesn’t necessarily mean good for you. Pigeon shit is also natural) and then they colour the hides for use. I honestly don’t know how they do it. It’s awful.

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The grey pits in the front are full of ammonia from bird poo and the dye vats are in the distance. You can see some hides on the rooftop drying on the right.

3. Porter – Nepal

These guys, in all kinds of shitty weather, are trekking food, building supplies and two to three persons’ worth of luggage at a time at high altitude for days and days at a time. Many of the villages in the remote regions of Nepal do not have access via road, so the only way to get supplies in is via helicopter, which is expensive, or to have a porter carry it for several days. Sometimes they even carry the most precious of cargo…. one time they even carried me when I nearly died (This Week I Almost Died ) over rock walls to put me in the helicopter. Anyway, the point is, carrying forty kilos or more of other peoples’ shit for days at a time uphill at altitude is a really shitty job and the pay, yet again is a pittance.

Two of the porters with their heavy packs and the head supports they use to help save their backs from ruin, struggling their way through the snow.

4. Mule – Everywhere in the fucking world

If you’re a mule, life sucks big time. Not only are you constantly being made to carry all manner of heavy shit up hills while a human smacks you on the hide for motivation to keep moving, sometimes you even have to carry said humans, because they are too lazy to walk themselves. I at times want to start a ‘Save The Mule’ campaign because they look utterly fucking miserable every single day of their lives. Especially when they are having to carry some fuckwit lazy tourist along a massive five day trek because that tourist wants to go ‘trekking’.

A Peruvian mule on the Salkantay Trek, chilling out before no doubt lugging some lazy arse up over the pass.

5. Silver Miner, Potosí, Bolivia

I have written about the conditions here in a previous blog (Shit I Learned In The Potosí Mines) and it is fair to say that conditions are absolutely appalling. You are breathing in dust that gets into your lungs and is killing you most of the time by the age of forty. Sometimes, accidents happen with explosions and people end up in pieces and dying. It is hot, miserable and dangerous work. Mostly for an absolute pittance.

Inside the Potosi mines, a worker is offering ritual sacrifice of coca and booze to Tio in hope that they will survive the day’s work.

So next time you are moaning about how shit your job is, spare a thought for this lot that are put through the dangerous and shitty ringer every day to make less than what you probably make in ten minutes.

 

What I Reckon: Globalism vs Nationalism

It is a hard pill to swallow. The truth is I feel like I have been choking on it for a while now and there is nothing to do but continue choking on it.

As someone who has travelled the world and been welcomed with open arms to so many places, I consider myself a global citizen. I consider myself a person of the human race before I consider myself Australian. And I know that this particular sentiment may be seen as unpatriotic and I’m sure that writing this will also lead to someone telling me to fuck off to wherever I think is better than the “lucky country”. Because that is the glorious kind of inclusive country I come from where all ideas of others are respected and considered. As long as those ideas fit within the realm of closed-minded, social expectations.

The truth is, the more I read in the news, the more I start to resent nationalistic ideas as a whole. They are human constructions that allowed us in the past to have common ground for co-operation but now, it appears to be a construct used to discriminate against those who are believed to be “lesser” humans. A person cannot actively choose where they are born, their colour, their gender, their sexual persuasion, or how much money mummy and daddy have in the bank. And yet these days unless you’re born a straight, white male in a well off country with a fucking silver spoon in your mouth, you’re a lesser human than everyone else with little to nothing to contribute.

The rise of fascist white supremacy groups throughout the United States, Australia and the UK disgusts me. It shows that, if anything, we have forgotten what happened when one particular fascist leader got it into his brain that all those of Aryan blood were better than everyone else and the others must die for it. 8 million of them. And while we are all well and good to sit there and say how terrible World War 2 was and how awful these crimes against humanity are, in the same breath we are spouting racist, Islamaphobic bullshit that comes from a place of fear, lack of critical thinking and misinformation. We clearly as a species have learned nothing from the past. And as clearly as that screams, my biggest fear is that we are bound to repeat them.

The reality of the current terrorist movement is that a very small amount die to create a mass movement of fear within others. And if you add all of the people that have died in acts of terror across Westernised countries over the last few decades, it is only a fraction of a percentage to those killed by heart disease or diabetes, or car accidents… what is more, it is substantially less than the number of other Muslims killed within their own countries by fellow Muslims. But again, this isn’t reported on the news because it isn’t considered worthy of our time or knowledge. These lives matter less.

What I would like to see is the walls of religious and national identity break down. I would love for nothing more than to live in a world where everyone can look at each other as fellow humans and accept that person for the joys and things they have to offer. But unfortunately I don’t see and end to this “them and us” mentality that plagues the world right now. As far as the ideas of humanism have progressed, there is a regression seen in the likes of Brexit and Mexican-US border walls. The politicians leading our countries are more than ever being congratulated on their spouting of racist, homophobic ideas instead of those that are inclusive to everybody that lives here. The message is becoming abundantly clear. Toe the line. Either get on board with the movement or fuck off. Well I think I’d rather fuck off than accept this thanks. My conscience is too strong to allow it.

 

Sledgehammers and Slow-burners

The dating world is a brutal place. Most of the time you will find yourself meeting up with people that just aren’t a good fit for you. Disrespect, lack of things in common, complete indifference to anything going on in your life to the point where they can’t even formulate a question, all manner of faux pas. But when you do find those people where there is an attraction and you have things in common, I find things go generally one of two ways. You’re either smacked with the love/hormone sledgehammer and fall so hard and fast that it doesn’t even make sense to you. It is so intense you can’t think straight. Or you wind up with what I like to call a slow-burner, someone that just creeps up on you slowly and continues to surprise you and pull you in little by little each time.

In the game of attraction, sledgehammers are definitely more exciting. It is like you can’t even breathe the air that they occupy without feeling completely drugged up and intoxicated. You hang on their every word, feel like this is it and everything that you have ever wanted after a week. The sex is amazing and all you want to do is be around them all the time. It is dangerous, exciting and total lust at its finest.

But in my experience, the sledgehammers stop you thinking and seeing straight. And before you know it, you miss all of the deal breakers, the manipulation, the games. They invade any rational thought that you have and replace it with the excuses you make for yourself because you don’t want to let go, it feels that good. Before you know it, you’re so far gone that you’re acting like a crazy person, constantly checking for messages, phone calls, any kind of gratification you can get because you’ve developed an addiction. This isn’t love. This isn’t even healthy. And once you recognise it, it is then time to put the hard yards of rehab into place and ween yourself off to avoid the ultimate heartbreak that will ensue.

The slow-burners, however, those are the ones you want. Those are the men that you actually see for who they are warts and all and choose them because of the small quirks that give you that tweak of nerves in your stomach. The ones that work to give you that confidence in them, little by little each time. That impress you with something new that makes you want them just that little bit more. They are the ones that you’re not obsessing about because deep down somewhere you know at some point you will hear from them. They are respectful like that. That you can trust where they are and what they are doing. Because there are no games. You get to know and respect each other and things develop out of a place of friendship and then one day you wake up and realise you made it there without even knowing. This is your person.

It’s not crazy and intense, it is sane and solid. It isn’t a rollercoaster that takes you on extreme highs and lows, it’s a scenic drive through the most stunning of landscapes. It isn’t the situation that ultimately turns toxic and winds up in the most erratic of screaming matches, it is the situation that holds you confidently high with who you are and supports you along the way. It is not the one that fizzles and dies in three weeks, but the one that lasts a lifetime.

So the next time you find  yourself standing in a situation with a sledgehammer, take the time to slow down and seriously look at what you have in front of you. As easy as it is to get caught up in the awesomeness of the moment, you are most likely missing some of the biggest red flags that you can find in relationships. Try and divert yourself into the slow lane and open your eyes to what it is that you really have in front of you and whether this is the best thing for you. If not, start again and maybe next time you meet a guy, try and do away with the hammer and pull out a candle. Who knows? Maybe this time you’ll be surprised by the outcome.

What I Reckon: Tindering

Ugh. That glorious world of online dating. You see, people these days are too lazy, too awkward, or have too little social skills to be able to actually go out and have a real and proper conversation with someone else. Instead we resort to sitting on our couches at 9pm, being judgemental wankers and swiping left and right to people based on the very small information they give you in their bios or through their photos. Myself included.

And let’s be real, some of them can be real wankers. There are an array of apparently headless men on here, one with who my friend jokingly matched with that she calls “Torso Tom” because she was unaware of whether or not he has an actual head. Then there are those who write down all manner of  weird shit in their bio… some fine examples of this would be:

“I think the only thing lower than my dopamine levels are my standards”

“Have my own teeth and my own home”

“Married. Is there a beautiful woman out there looking for company? Interests include gym, tai chi, massaging and meeting nymphos”

“Ethically non-monogamous”

I also love looking at guys take fifteen selfies of themselves sitting on a weights bench in the gym and posting them all up. Which of course is city fare. If you are ever in the countryside expect a million photos of men with fish and cars.

Then once you get past the actual part of matching, you have to get them to actually write you back. Some start with the very boring “Hi” and then don’t really get much more interesting than that for the thirty minutes that you attempt to tease some kind of personality out of them. Here’s a thought….. I have asked you ten questions already. In case you didn’t realise, the question mark is to be found on the bottom row of the keyboard on your phone once you click that little button bottom left that indicates numbers and punctuation marks. You should really thing about using it sometime in conjunction with a little bit of initiative and taking an interest. If you can’t show a basic interest in getting to know who I am instead of spouting a whole bunch of unintelligible shit about yourself or nothing, I am done! “BYYYYEEEEE FELICIA!!”

Some are really entertaining to talk to online when they have some time to think about what they are writing and then they lose all of their shit completely when you meet them because they have no personality in real life. Some choose to message you at 11pm “The night is young! Let’s meet up now!” and when you tell them that real people with real jobs like to go to bed at 11pm on a weeknight and meet crazy types off Tinder in the day time in public places they disappear faster than you can say ‘booty call’. Some don’t even message back at all to be honest because they are just collecting matches for self validation.

With such a selection, it is a wonder we even bother at all to be honest. There are married men looking to screw around on their wives, angry psychos, guys who are completely full of themselves, guys that know exactly what to say to get you where they want you and then disappear when they do, doms looking for subs, couples looking for threesomes, some polyamorous folk and a whole load of boring. To be honest, where are the nice intelligent and funny men? Oh yeah, married and not on Tinder. Or maybe married and still on Tinder.

It has never been a sadder time to be single and trying to make a connection. The world has gone mad with too much choice and easy access. There is no working for anything anymore. Even when you do have a great conversation on the internet, it very rarely translates into anything more. People are poisoned by the idea that if they settle down and choose just one thing that they are going to be perpetually missing out on all of the other awesome options floating around out there that they could have. But I ask, what fucking options? Because I am not looking at any really great ones on Tinder right now.

Relationships and forging real connections with people is hard. Much harder than swiping left or right and because of this grand idea that there are always loads more to swipe on we become complacent and lazy in the efforts we make to show ourselves to others and to take an interest in them in return. Maybe it is time to go back to the more authentic way of meeting people. Maybe it is time to balls up, walk up to the hot person in the bar and strike up a conversation, and if they are boring, or there’s no spark, move on, it will take up five minutes of your life and will be far less than the actual amount of time you spend talking shit to someone on Tinder and then organizing to meet them only to discover that you are not compatible. Real spark happens in real life. So grab it by the proverbial balls and get offline and go and find it.

To Live, To Love and To Learn To Let Go

That age old saying. You have to learn to live, to love and to learn to let go. It’s a funny saying. Because so much of it is up to interpretation. These days the one of these things I find the easiest is the letting go. But I feel that maybe sometimes you can let go too much. And sometimes you can let go of the things you probably should be holding on to. At what point do we start to find ourselves in the position where we let go of things that are just too hard and walk away when we should probably stick it out?

My life in the last ten years has been so transient that everything comes and goes and learning to let go was a coping skill that you needed to develop to survive the heartbreak of constantly making new friends, only to have them leave, or meeting the most amazing guy and having a fling for a week and then having to leave. Of falling in love with a place and it’s people, and then having to leave. It has gotten to the point where I am so used to someone leaving or to me leaving something, I feel so comfortable with this trend. I now continue subconsciously choosing men, friends or situations that are leaving because it is the pattern that I know and can deal with. But what if I didn’t? What would happen if I chose things that were more permanent? Maybe it is time to let go of the notion of temporary. To let go of the belief that I need to protect myself from all of the impermanence. Maybe it is time to stick with something for a change? However, within reason.

The idea of starting everything a fresh is quite daunting. But as I sit looking at all of the things that I need to do to get my life on track I feel like I am sitting in front of a giant pile of Lego blocks. I get to choose which blocks I want to use to build my life and my story. If I don’t like the colour, or the block doesn’t fit, I toss it back in the pile and find another. I don’t have to pull down an entire house to get rid of one broken brick. I can cull those broken bricks as I go. It is an interesting situation to be in.

I have realised that once I choose my bricks, I also need to cement them in or the house will ultimately fall down. There is no letting go of things that are too hard this time and running away. It is time to make better choices from the start and that is hard. That is hand choosing every single brick that I believe will make the best house and placing it in the best position. Sometimes it might mean turfing out the pretty coloured brick for one that will be more structurally sound and it is always hard to get rid of those ones, because they are so pretty and alluring.  But game on! Let’s do this. It is time to make better choices. It is time to open myself up to the pain that comes with not walking away from anything and everything that might be good for me and clinging on to those things that aren’t.

The valuable life, the one that is full of real, deep love, the one where you feel content with every single day you live. It doesn’t come from a place of being afraid and letting go of everything that might hurt even a little. It is about facing that fear and saying ‘shove off’ and then choosing to stick it out no matter how scary it might get. No matter how afraid you are of the hurt. Because while the minor highs of minor commitment to anything will feed the entertainment meter for short periods of time, it will never permanently fuel the soul like something deeper that stems from actually having to stick it out and work for it. It all starts with a choice. So which block are you going to choose first?

 

 

Another 30 Things You May Not Know About Me

Given the reception to the last thirty things I wrote, most of which did not phase my mother as she knew pretty much all of them except one and even that didn’t surprise her, I figured I would have another crack at some more things people don’t know.

  1. I took up boxing for sport after I was attacked in the street by a gang when I was 20. I have a nasty scar across my right eyebrow still.
  2. When I lived in Canada I filmed a commercial for Edo Japan dressed as an elf. It is horrific and hilarious, especially because they made me do a Canadian accent.
  3. I have a paradoxical vocal chord disfunction that makes my vocal chords block my airway when I do things like walk up steep hills and run.
  4. I’ve never been able to run for more than a minute. Even when I was a kid in primary school, I could never cut an entire lap of the oval. Even at my fittest, I struggled with this.
  5. When I was five I swallowed a five cent piece that got stuck in my oesophagus and I had to have an operation to have it removed. I have a hole on one side of my palate that food gets stuck in that isn’t normal. I am convinced it is from this.
  6. I am never in silence. I suffer from hearing damage and ringing in my ears as a result of playing music in loud rock bands as a teenager and through my twenties for work without wearing earplugs, because I am stupid.
  7. I was once hit by a car on the road. Luckily I jumped back quick enough that it missed my legs and clipped my arm. It swelled to twice its size and because I am so bad at asking for help from others I walked an hour and a half to the hospital to get an x-ray. Luckily it wasn’t broken.
  8. I have kept a journal of every single day of my life for the last seven years.
  9. One of my ears has a bump on the top part of it and it annoys the shit out of me. It looks like a permanent mosquito bite and think it may have actually happened from a mosquito bite.
  10. If I want to annoy someone with the most foul smelling farts on the face of the planet, all I need to do is eat something that has been made with brown sugar. Beans? No way! Brown sugar every single time. Proper lethal.
  11. The way I tell the difference between left and right is due to a freckle in the middle of my left hand which I have had since I was four.
  12. I wish that I could do art, but I cannot draw to save my own life.
  13. I have a proper obsession with the game Drop7 and trying to crack the million points mark which I have only ever done once. When I did I had an overwhelming urge to message my ex the score with a ‘fuck you!’ message, then thought better of it…..
  14. I have lost three toenails at once and it was utterly gross. My dad used the edge of a fishing knife to scrape away the nail at the base to relieve the pressure, it hurt that bad.
  15. The worst job I have ever had was posting stickers onto men’s urinals so that they could piss on their least favourite football team and erase them with heat activation. Awful!
  16. Speaking of other bad jobs, up there was also dressing up as Timmy the Sheep with my friend who was Shaun and having small children we couldn’t see pull our tails.
  17. When I am nervous, I laugh at inappropriate things, bite my fingernails and talk too much.
  18. My first ever solo singing performance was when I was eight and sang the Twelve Days of Christmas in my primary school assembly.
  19. I have been fired from three different jobs.
  20. I have bungee jumped three times.
  21. I have zero tattoos and would never get one as I feel that I could never commit to something so permanent. The things I loved five years ago I do not necessarily love now. I would extend that to tattoos.
  22. I have a fun habit of dancing and singing into shampoo bottles in the shower. But only when I think people aren’t listening.
  23. I will admit, that I am terrible at asking for help and hate doing it. It is a work in progress.
  24. I will not wear sunglasses unless they are polarized. It is an OCD thing. And you’ve got to be good to your eyes, because you only get one set.
  25. I learned to drive a manual car when I was 12 in a beat up Datsun. It was an enlightening experience that involved me push-starting the car every time I stalled it.
  26. I once watched so many Criminal Minds re-runs that I had nightmares about serial killers for a week. I now have to moderate myself despite how much I love Reid and Derek…..
  27. I very rarely remember my dreams as I am such a heavy sleeper (thus why point 26 is odd).
  28. I am a compulsive list writer. I even have lists of my lists, that is how many lists I have.
  29. My favourite flowers are orchids.
  30. I have an addiction to Groupon. Although I am currently finding Melbourne Groupon to be nowhere near as adventurous as London’s. You can’t go clay target shooting or learn to fly helicopters on Groupon here…

Anyway, there’s another quirky thirty. For those that know me, any that take you by surprise?

Til next week! x

Returning To The Time Of Your Life

A couple of years ago, I went to Budapest for New Years Eve with a friend. Post festivities I wound up with a serious bout of tonsillitis that rendered me flightless and going nowhere for two weeks. So I decided to stay in Budapest. And despite having no expectations I had the time of my life. I still remember the taste of the cottage cheese dumplings and paprika chicken from my favourite restaurant down the road, the awesomeness of the Roman baths, the incredible people that I met while I was there.

The thing is, it is never the same when you go back. After going back I walked through the place like a tourist of my own memories. The Starbucks where I bought mint tea everyday to soothe my throat. The cottage cheese dumplings that didn’t actually taste the same after going back. The charity shop where I bought the ridiculous wig that I wore to one of the hostel parties. The bars where I used to hang out. And none of it felt the same. I think that much of what you really love about a place that you visit has to do with the people that you meet when you are visiting the place.

The last time I was in Toronto, I walked around and it triggered the most amazing memories of times that I had when I lived there. But I chose to use it as a tourist exercise in re-exploring who I was and how far I had come since that point. That naïve girl had a whole lot of fun, but she also learned some really hard lessons. And truth be told, I wouldn’t want to recreate those times, knowing all that I do now.

There are some places in this world that I have decided to remember fondly and never go back to. One of these places is San Pedro La Laguna. The incredible people I met here and the amazing time that I had in such an emotional time in my life will never be able to be replicated (despite the fact I kept going back and did three stints there over as many months) and some things are better left alone as the memories that you have instead of tainting them with something that is not as good the next time around. A very large part of me came into who I was here. It holds such strong roots in my identity that I don’t want to re-visit. I also feel this way with a few other things, not just travel.

Returning to old relationships that have run their course for a reason despite your want to find your way back to the time when it was amazing. It is often in your best interest to accept the fact that it is gone and to sit back and look at it from a distance with fondness and embrace that it is over. Whether these be long term romantic relationships, passing flings or friendships. The point where we try to go back on something that is already too broken feeds into more distress and heartbreak. As hard as it is, it is best at times to just walk away.

Sometimes we remember something as being so good in the time that we had it, that it never quite lives up to the expectations you have of it when time rolls back around and the opportunity comes back to you. And sometimes things are exactly the way you remembered them, despite you trying your hardest to contort the memories to make them better than what they were. There are lessons to be learned. People change. Situations change. Feelings change. And sometimes they don’t. Wisdom is knowing what situation you’re looking at and following through with what you know you need to do. I have lived through these expectations so many times, and been burned so many times that I feel like maybe now, at thirty-four, I am starting to get it. Some things are worth fighting for, and others are worth leaving alone.

As humans we seem to spend so much time looking backwards and yearning for things that once were. Some people had the time of their lives in high school and long for those days back. We long for the glory days of our youth or when things were once better. I don’t want to spend time dwelling on trying to find what once was. To dwell on such things would be to ignore the ways that I have grown and the ways I have changed since those times. It would be to ignore the struggle. I look forward and want to embrace the things I haven’t yet done and keep moving. There is no point in looking back and trying to re-obtain it. The past is gone. It is a bundle of all the things good and bad that we should fondly look upon to help guide us forward. Because all we have is what is right now and what there is to come. And those things will never be amazing when you compare or try to get back what you had. Strive for something new. Strive for something better. Because that is who you are.

Shit I Learned In Bolivia

There was definitely no shortage of shit to learn in Bolivia. Some of it sad, some of it angering and yet some of it hilarious, entertaining and interesting. It is a country that has had it’s ups and downs and then some more after that. Here is some shit I learned while I was there.

Bolivia used to have access to the sea

Well once upon a time, before Chile decided that the bird shit for fertilizer meant big dollar signs and that they could just essentially go to war with Bolivia and take that area of land and call it their own. Needless to say, Bolivia is now landlocked and this is one of the contributing factors to it being one of the poorer countries in South America. No access to the sea, means having to transport goods through another country overland and that is going to cost. Another win for Chile.

The dollar sign was created in Bolivia

$$$ Yep! That one. Back in the day when the mint in Potosi was working at exceptionally high output (well for back in those days when horses were operating the machinery) they used to brand the coins with symbols that signified that they were indeed minted in Potosi. These symbols consisted of the letters P T S and I merged into one symbol. The S and I merged together were what originally gave rise to the dollar symbol. Well according to the mint in Potosi…. the internet is still out with those decisions.

The Bolivian Presidential term is supposed to be limited to two terms.

I say supposed to be because the current, corrupt-as-shit president decided that if he changed the name of the country, then he could run again for a third term because he was president of a whole other country before. The locals obviously got pissed off with this as they don’t want some corrupt-as-shit wanker running their country and had a referendum they referred to as 21F because it happened on the 21st February. The majority decided they were against changing the constitution to allow dictators the capability to take over the country, but as dictators do, they take over and don’t listen regardless. There are still quite a lot of protests happening with this, but mostly they fall on deaf ears.

A 21F protest. ‘Bolivia says no’.

A man’s prowess is to be expressed through knitting

That’s right, you heard correctly. Knitting. When these boys are young, they have to get out their knitting needles and start practicing making these knitted hats that they use to demonstrate to the ladies how skilled they are. The single chaps wear different hats to those that have married, however, if ya boy can’t knit, he is gonna have some shocking lady problems. In that he ain’t gonna have one.

The Tiwanaku gave rise to the Incas

The Tiwanaku people originated on the southern parts of Lake Titicaca, which now is much smaller than what it was before as the ruins that used to be on the water are now a substantial way inland. The people consisted of different groups that spoke different languages, two of these being the Aymara and the Quechua. Today you can still see small groups of the Aymara’s living on the lake. The have built fabulous reed islands and have an interesting culture. The Quechuan speakers, however, went off and became and entity unto themselves. They became what we know now as the Incas. Majority of the building structures and styles of the Incas demonstrate a knowledge developed from the time of the Tiwanaku as can been observed by looking at the structures from both periods.

The glorious ruins of Tiwanaku

The Spanish screwed up a few words in this hood too

That famous place that they sing about where music and passion are always in fashion…. yeah that is right, the Copacabana…. that is a word that derives from Aymara. But of course the Spanish can’t pronounce ‘kota kahuana’ and butchered it like everything else.

Other fun word meanings

Lake Titicaca. Titi in Quechua means puma, and caca translates to rock. So Lake Titicaca is essentially a puma rock. Which is somewhat odd. How they ever knew what the shape of a lake that size was in astounding. The lake itself is shaped like a puma, so it makes it somewhat believable. The jury still isn’t on this one though, as there are many different ideas of where the name came from including more Spanish butchering of indigenous words. The truth? Nobody really knows what it used to be called before. There aren’t enough artefacts to tell us.

Dinosaurs

After a very long journey, through a very long valley all the way from Cochabamba to Torotoro to learn about dinosaurs, I learned a great deal about how they train tour guides…. in fact I am pretty sure that they don’t.

“So um, how were they preserved?” I ask.

“Well the dinosaurs just walked here and then over time the mud dried and it got hard.” Ummmm….. and then?

It is fair to say that we had a rather beautiful, humorous and not so informative journey through here. Who am I kidding? I didn’t learn shit about dinosaurs! (Chuckles internally at the thought of making tour guide consistently awkward by asking too many scientific questions in Spanish that he didn’t seem to know the answers to.)

Dinosaur footprints. Big dinosaur (from deduction). Don’t ask me how they got there and stayed there. Who knows? Lol.

Bolivia! Incredible country. Some of the most incredible nature that I have come across and somewhere that I would definitely return to and explore some more if I ever have the time and money!

 

 

 

 

What I Reckon: My Loathing Hatred Of Airports

Airports. Once upon a time so luxurious and lovely and flying was such a wonderful thing and blah blah blah. In this day and age of ‘terrorism’, low cost carriers, and the cheap flight battles, we have gotten to a point where flying is no longer a source of wonder and joy, but a pain in the arse. In the last two and a half months, I have been 9 times on a plane. In that time I have been screened with baggage about 3 times on average per flight, I have been patted down four times (cause lets face it, I must have magnetic tits when I am walking through the thing wearing practically nothing) and aggressively prodded in the pubic bone during manual search (ummmm…. if you ask someone to stop publicly prodding you in the vagina in an airport does this make you a terrorist with something to hide or must we endure it to get on the flight? Or do we need to subject ourselves to gloved-finger vaginal searches as well?).

Not only is the screening process a pain in the arse, but now baggage has also become one of these ordeals that you wind up paying out the arse for. I find myself standing in a queue with all my heavy toiletries in my jacket pockets, a computer down the back of my pants and all manner of other heavy things jammed in my bra while I am subjected to the weighing of hand luggage, by one of those transportable scales at the actual fucking gate. Don’t check people when they approach the front desk. Get them at the gate and if they are a hundred grams over tell them they have to check their bag and pay sixty fucking dollars for it.  Not only that but once upon a time it was ten kilograms and you could get a reasonable amount of stuff with you. Now it is seven kilograms, which is pretty much enough luggage to take a wheelie suitcase with not much at all in it. If I take my computer in that case, game over. Well unless I am graciously hiding it somewhere in my pants under a bulky jacket.

Airlines do not give a fuck about customer service these days either. It is perfectly acceptable to leave someone in the airport waiting for three and a half hours for a delayed flight, because ‘who fucking cares if you have somewhere you need to be?’ Oh and even better, those times when you have problems checking in online and when you arrive to the airport they kindly inform you that there is no space on the flight for you because you didn’t check in on time. ‘Well I fucking tried, but it’s your fault I am not checked in, it is your computer malfunction and I bought this ticket eight weeks ago!” Nah. Too bad. You find yourself standing in a line waiting to see if somebody else doesn’t show up so that you can get on the flight that they have oversold that you have already paid for. Fucking furious.

Or those times where you are sat on a plane on the runway without information for four hours while they faff about trying to cross reference a passenger list with luggage, which let’s face it, shouldn’t take four hours. Then the airline has the nerve to say ‘oh yeah, we can sell you some food’. People on that plane were going to cause a riot if their hangry selves didn’t get fed and as such the airline after facing a hoard of crazy customers decided to offer one snack and one drink complementary per person. By the time I got up to go and get my snack, it had gotten even more out of hand. It was like watching a new teacher try and manage thirty out of control teenagers as passengers took whatever they felt like from the cart that was more than just a sandwich and a drink. “Oh, but sir…..”. But guess what, sir doesn’t give a fuck and you clearly have no authority as to say no to him so he’s taking his five chocolate bars and four sandwiches and he’s off. As it was I wound up with two sandwiches, a chocolate bar and a drink. I do not feel bad. Whatever.

And don’t even get me started on people who walk slowly with their wheelie fucking suitcases in everyone’s way and taking up both sides of the escalator instead of being polite so that those of us in a hurry and who suffer crippling impatience can beat you to the immigration counter. The amount of people that I ran down in the Stansted Airport in London because of them being slow and in my way I can’t count. But then there was something about London, and London Airports especially, that transformed me into the largest kind of arsehole there ever was that lived.

Anyway, my point is, I hate airports. Fucking hate them. It is the part of travel that I loathe the most. I would rather take a bus and for the most part, I have done most of my cross-continental travels on the bus. Planes are only a necessity when going across water. The people who work there hate their lives and are rude. Security is a bitch at the best of times and depending on where you are, they can be so rigid that it takes forever. Even flight attendants these days seem to hate their jobs. The glamourous and fabulous experiences of the past are dead. Now everybody gets herded like cattle in a transport van, all jammed in at once into tiny seats with their knees around their heads so that they can sit uncomfortably and hungrily for hours without food and water unless you buy a ten dollar box of crackers or water, or manage to get an empty plastic bottle through that you can fill with hot water in the bathrooms because the arseholes don’t have a cold tap anywhere to encourage you to buy more plastic water bottles that end up in the oceans you fly over so we can watch the penguins choke on them. Exactly. Fuck the airport. The only good thing about it is that after dealing with two of them, you can leave for a while and go explore somewhere new until you have to go back again to go home. Ugh.

 

What I Reckon: Consumerism

I stood in the mall the other day on the escalator and got overwhelmed. I had made a special trip with a friend to buy a specific thing and then that was it. I didn’t want anything other than the thing I needed. But as I slowly started to take note of what was happening around me I realised a few things. There were people everywhere loaded up with plastic shopping bags. Many of these people were shopping for the sake of actual shopping. Not because they actually need anything. But because they have nothing to do and some money to burn so why not just go see what is out there to spend money on for the sake of it. For someone who has sat on the side of the road with refugees that have nothing and yet still have a smile on their face, this general attitude towards consuming annoys me more than I can even express. I am from a country of incredibly lucky and yet entitled people. People who moan how tough they have it because they can’t afford rent this week because they had to buy that carton of beer because alcohol is a typical life ‘necessity’. People with 50″ televisions in their living rooms and more clothes than they know what to do with. And then after three months when it’s all “out of fashion” it’s back to the mall to buy more shit that is made by some poor slave for stuff all money in a developing country because we can’t be seen to not have the best or most fashionable things. That would clearly make us unhappy because that is what society tells us. That is what media manipulate us into believing. Things make us happy, and the more of them you have, the more updated everything is, the better the life you have.

I can’t deal with it. I just can’t. Because if there is one thing that I have learned in this life it is that I don’t need any of it. And neither do you. After returning from travel, I came back to so much shit sitting in the cupboard from my old life that taught me that ‘shopping’ was fun and having lots of stuff was required. I donated or threw half of my things away. I kept majority of my old clothes because I figure I will use them until they die, then use them as a rag and then move on to another item that I bought a long time ago that I have barely used. And even as I sit here, preparing to move, the weight of having more than just a backpack feels like it is so heavy that it could bore me a hole to the centre of the earth. But I am torn between my hatred of waste, and my hatred of owning too much.

The saddest thing of all is that we live in a society that is becoming more and more obsessed with demonstrating life successes through material possessions. You need to have the latest model phone. The largest television. The nicest car. The latest fashion in clothes. These things apparently demonstrate your worth to society, but unfortunately, with every new thing that you acquire, you are only going to need something greater, something grander, to get to the next step of being awesome. Everywhere you look, the media continues to propagate this idea to people so that you will go out and spend all your money on these things to keep the pockets of those who head corporations exploding with more money than they know what to do with. And for some of them, it would be enough to wipe out debts of entire countries, or eliminate hunger and poverty. But obviously, these things aren’t a priority compared to a luxury yacht and designer outfit that they can then post on Instagram to make everybody else feel inferior and depressed about the fact that they can’t do the same.

The backwards thing about this is that so many of these consumerist people are depressed and are not happy. Why? Because instead of focusing on being grateful for the things that they have, they focus on all the things that they don’t have and how obtaining these things will somehow make life better. I can tell you now, it doesn’t. Happiness is a choice you make everyday when you decide to be grateful for the things that you have. If there was one thing that I could have told my twelve-year old self, it would be that. None of it matters and you can’t take any of it with you when you die. It doesn’t define whether or not you are a good person. Your actions do. And it is the relationships you have with others that will define you, not all of the shit that you can put on display to others. Having more, does not make you more.

In a world that is already dying because of overpopulation and awful distribution of resources, buying and buying and buying exacerbates the problem. If we stop buying all the shit, then there will be no need to produce it. The destruction of our environment will lessen, and maybe we could live in a world where everybody has enough instead of a world where the large majority have nothing and the minority strive to take it all. The reality is, it is out of hand and snowballing big time. Eventually there will be nothing left and we will be living on top of a giant pile of trash. 

There needs to be a very large shift in the thinking of majority of the world. Shopping needs to be something that occurs out of necessity instead of as a fun hobby. People need to learn to accept who they are and define themselves by how they behave with others instead of how much stuff they have and can flaunt in the face of others. People need to realise that they are spending their entire lives being craftily manipulated by advertisements that very cleverly brainwash you into specific ways of thinking to make a small minority of people very large sums of money. They need to develop a consciousness of our environment and our planet and learn to preserve it for others instead of constantly thinking about instant gratification and comfort. It is killing our planet. And it is killing our self worth and self esteem. And I don’t know about you, but those things are worth more to me than a new Gucci handbag or the latest iPhone.