Instant Coffee: A Review I can't feel my pancreas

Ahhhh, the first sip is like battery acid, but the good kind of battery acid. The kind of battery acid where you walk into the garage, take the little caps off the knob things on the top of the battery to expose the liquid inside, grab the battery in both hands, tilt your head back, and…

The good kind of battery acid.

I’m talking about instant coffee, of course. I’ve just made myself a cup, though this is one of my last since I’ve resolved the following: After this jar of instant coffee and one more americano from each of my favorite cafes in Lima, I will no longer buy coffee. I’ll still drink it if someone offers, but I’ll no longer buy it. Because my adrenal glands are shot. I woke up this morning and stared at the wall for 15 minutes. I’d still be staring at the wall, trying to think of ideas for a blog post, if I hadn’t started drinking instant coffee. So praise instant coffee. Am I really going to give it up?

Shit, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’m all talk.

I just took another sip and before taking the sip I looked down into the instant coffee. It was black. It was like looking into a barrel of crude oil. Instant coffee is all the rage in Chile, where I don’t think people realize anything else exists. And it’s not that instant coffee is bad. OK, compared to regular coffee it’s terrible, but you can’t compare it to regular coffee. It would be like comparing wine to tequila. Neither of them are bad, they’re just different.

My particular brand of instant coffee is called Altomayo and I bought the “gourmet” kind, which Cristina, the Venezuelan woman also staying at my Airbnb, commented on.

“That stuff’s supposed to be better,” she said. “Is it?”

“No,” I said, “At least I can’t tell a difference.”

Now I’m nearing the end of the instant coffee, which means the usual question arises: Should I have another cup? I’m inclined to say no. I’m inclined to publish this post, get ready to go out, and then walk to Puku Puku where I’ll spend several hours sipping an americano and reading The New Yorker. But at the same time, when you add a couple teaspoons of sugar, it’s pretty damn good. Maybe I should have another cup. Maybe I….

 

 

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The Next Step "O logras ser feliz con poco..."

corey mark la paz

“Mi madre hablaba como la aurora y como los dirigibles que van a caer.” – Vicente Huidobro

I’m exploring options for the next few week/months/years/decades/millennia of my life after flying to Lima next Tuesday. At first I thought I’d stay in Lima a week and then make my way into the mountains.

But now I realize I have…

Options?

Option 1: Play it safe

Stay in Lima a week or two, go to small town outside Lima, go to Huancayo, a city six hours east of Lima located at 3,400 meters above sea level in the mountains, stay a couple weeks in Huancayo since weather wouldn’t be hot and it has cheap Airbnb’s.

Make way into the jungle…

The jungle.

Option 2: José Mujica

Stay a week in Lima, make way to Cusco, make way to Puerto Maldonado, cross into Brazil, go to Rio Branco, see a bit of both Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon, make way into Paraguay, then Uruguay, drink mate with José Mujica, then make way down to Buenos Aires, down to Chiloé, then Ushuaia.

Fly to Svalbard.

Option 3: Paraguay

Make way to Bolivia, spend a couple weeks in Bolivia, make way to Paraguay.

Paraguay looks…nice.

Option 4: English, mate, Svalbard

Fly to Santiago, fly to Valdivia, make way to Chiloé, stay with Marcela and Pablo on their farm for a couple months, teaching English, writing, and drinking mate. Then make way to Ushuaia. Fly to Svalbard.

Option 5: The southernmost “community” in the world

Choose one of the above, and in addition to going to Ushuaia also go to Puerto Williams, Chile, southernmost town in the world, and from there take boat to Puerto Toro, southernmost community in the world. Learn how to catch king crab.

Option 6: Babies

Make way to Córdoba, Argentina through Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay. Meet girl. Start pronouncing double “l’s”  like “sh.” Starting pronouncing single “l’s” like “sh.” Have 3-30 children. Stay forever.

Option 7: None of the above

Miss flight to Lima. Stay in Guadalajara.

 

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How to Get From Mexico to Chile for Cheap

near villa rica, chile

What’s the cheapest way to get from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Chile? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately.

A quick search on Google Flights tells I could fly from Guadalajara, Mexico to Valdivia, Chile (because I don’t want to go to Santiago, I want to go south) for a casual $839 dollars. But I don’t have $839. I’m not an oil magnate. I’m not a sheik. And besides, I bet I could do it cheaper….

Dear God.

So I do another search, this time using Google Flight’s wonderful map view, and see I could get from Guadalajara to Lima, Peru, for $154 dollars on April 11th. This is a much better price, since flying from North America to anywhere south of the equator is notoriously expensive. $154 dollars is a steal.

Hooray.

But Lima isn’t exactly Chile. In fact, if you wanted to take a bus from Lima to Chile, you’re looking at about an 18-hour bus ride. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a bus for 18 hours before. I have. Several times. And let me tell you…..it’s actually kind of fun (see: awful).

And even if you took a bus from Lima to Chile you’d only be in northern Chile, and still another 24-hour, $70 hell ride from Santiago (and another 10-hour bus ride from Valdivia, or, where it starts to get green). Luckily, that’s where Sky Airline comes in.

So many hours of desert travel saved by a mere $113.

Sky Airline is wonderful, mostly because they refuse to have an “s” in their name. It’s not “Sky Airlines.” It’s unapologetically “airline.”

Anyway, now we’ve made it to Santiago. We’re in Chile!!! But we want to get further south. We want to get where the landscape starts reminding us of Washington State. Where they’re blackberries and sea lions and salmon. Again, Sky Airline is critical:

After one night in SCL, we hop on this beauty of a flight from Santiago to Valdivia. Valdivia is one of the most beautiful cities in Chile. It’s a university town. It’s on a river. There’s a market everyday next to the river and sea lions and fresh cherries and pretty much everything else you could want in life. And from Valdivia it’s a relatively short bus ride to Puerto Montt, the northern tip of Patagonia, and the fairytale that Patagonia promises.

If you’ve ever wondered how I spend my time, this post might give you a good idea. I love solving conundrums like these, and even better, following through and carrying them out. But whether or not this trip will happen remains to be seen. I’ve still got a little soul searching to do here in Guadalajara first.

The Desert of Nostalgia

hitchhiking northern chile desert

I feel strange this morning. A bit disconnected. But not that disconnected. I think, to be honest, I’m a bit bummed I’m not working this morning. I have the entire morning at my disposal. A vast chasm of space.

Last night I continued my current theme of not drinking alcohol during the week. I went to the grocery store where I bought an empanada, some cooking oil, and an avocado. The goal was to make burritos a lo gringo, but I forgot to buy tortillas. So I ended up having rice with onion and avocado smothered in Valentina sauce, accompanied by a Dr. Pepper, and watched the first episode of Black Mirror. I found it quite disturbing. It actually almost ruined my night. I’m sensitive.

I’d be a bit surprised if I’m still in Guadalajara in a month. And it’s not that I’m desperate to leave, I just think there’s a good chance I will. Every time I think about the world and it’s vastness, all the places I could see, all the places I don’t even know exist, it seems a shame to stay in one place. I wonder what’s happening in a cafe right now in Vladivostok. I wonder how it smells to wake up in London. I wonder what it would feel like to be drinking mate in the southern Chilean town of Coyhaique. To wake up, have an espresso, and take off down a dirt road in Sardinia.

A year and a half ago I left the apartment where I was staying in Seattle, took the ferry to my parents’ house, and then set off for the Olympic Peninsula. The goal was to surf a well-known river mouth that night before sunset. When I got there, there were no waves. Or there were BARELY waves. But I got in the water anyway. I was so happy. Overjoyed, actually. I got in the water and it was already almost an inky black and I sat in the stillness by myself, looking out at the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the pine-tree covered hills of Vancouver Island in the distance. Finally, a tiny wave came, just big enough to ride, and I stood up, pumped once to the right, , rode it for a second, jumped off, yelped, and stood there on the rocks, feeling the water around me. And then, looking back at the sky that was changing from dark blue to black, I walked back to my 1995 Honda Civic and started my journey. That night, I slept in a Walmart parking lot in Tumwater, WA. The next night I slept in Oregon, and within two weeks I was crossing the border into Mexico, and driving south, south, to Guatemala, Honduras, Central American and beyond. And so when I say I think about what it would be like to be drinking mate right now in the southern Chilean town of Coyhaique it’s because on that trip I remember leaving Coyhaique, having just bought a pack of Lucky Strikes, right around sunset, and on the way out passing the huge statue they have in the roundabout that’s a hand holding a mate gourd and a sign that says something like, The Mate Capital of Chile.

When I say I think I might be leaving Guadalajara soon it’s because of memories like these.

But enough nostalgia. There’s no need to be nostalgic. You can’t get the experiences back, though I’ve certainly tried to do so. And most of the time when you’re living an amazing experience you don’t even realize it in the moment. In fact, the best experiences are by definition the ones you don’t realize are amazing in the moment. In fact, they could kind of even suck in the moment. This has happened to me plenty of times. This might even be happening now, with Guadalajara. It’s never possible to know. And plus, our brains have a way of shielding us from painful memories, like going over an area of lump sand with a rake and smoothing it and smoothing it until it’s beautiful and you could never tell a storm took place. Our brains are like a forest that replants itself in the wake of a forest fire. After an unpleasant event everything is black and charred, but with the first rains the seedlings sprout, and then the trees start to grow, and in few years you have a juvenile forest, and with enough time you can’t even tell a forest fire took place. The very fact that the past is deceptive, that are brains are tricksters, is a good reason not to dwell on it. But sometimes it’s nice to dwell, at least a little. To look at pictures and remember a particularly special surf session, or a statue of a hand holding a gourd of mate.

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What it Means to Be a Nomad

hitchhiking in chile

Remember how two posts ago I said only had $250 to my name and how I was sort of freaking out and thinking about trying to steal cars in Guadalajara? Or steal anything, really? Well, today I’m much more calm about the whole situation. I got a small job working for my friend Nate doing translation, and more job prospects are on the way. Here’s the thing: I don’t want to put down roots (unless it’s in the German hamlet of Wuppertal; There I will put down roots whole-fucking-heartedly). I want to solidify my nomad lifestyle. I want to make it viable. I want to have several online jobs, I want to make money from this blog, and I want to make money from writing in general. Is it possible to settle down as a nomad, to settle down without staying in one place? Of course it is. Because don’t forget: Being a nomad doesn’t mean you have to move willy-nilly all over the place, randomly ripping yourself apart from a place just because you think you’re supposed to keep moving. Nomadic people traditionally move between good grazing grounds, or good farming grounds. They might go up north in the winter, and then back south in the summer (which is essentially what I’ve done over the past few years). Their movements are predictable, controlled. Over the past few years I’ve generally summered (!) in Seattle and then moved south over the winter. Usually I make it as far as Chile or Argentina and set up shop. This is because I love Chile (and Argentinian girls make me look like a rabies patient), mostly because the climate in southern Chile in the winter is exactly the same as the climate in Seattle in the summer. There are blackberries!  There are tide flats! The only thing different is that it’s thousands of miles away and people speak a different language.

So that’s kind of my thought for today. Settling down doesn’t have to be a physical thing. You can settle your spirit down. You can work out a life for yourself that involves moving around nomadically, but still, to a certain extent, have roots. You can have people that you see regularly, people that you see regularly. You can have routine. You could even have a love life.

Though let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

 

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