December 12, 2006

I Have I Want I Love
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Experiences, desires, and loves encountered during the course of the past year.

I Have…

I've completely broken the habit of flushing toilet paper down the drain (I now instinctively go for the basket full of soiled wiping material).

I've discovered the pleasure of reading for fun. Never before in my life have I read so many books.

I've eaten fish caught in protected waters.

I've climbed to the rim of a cratered Caribbean volcano, surfed on sand, and dived deep into the sea.

I've lived in a banana plantation for a month, an hour and a half away from the closest Internet connection or white person.

I've seen more ancient ruins and cathedrals than I can count.

I've sailed as a crew member on a 20 meter (65 foot) yacht for a month in the Caribbean.

I've fought off an attacking mugger.

I've almost broken my back playing around on a boogie board (folded in half by a wave like a taco the wrong way).

I've had belongings stolen from me.

I've been bitten and/or stung by bed bugs, mites, misquotes, no-see-ums, bees, hornets, ants, jellyfish, and a scorpion.

I've gotten at least one new scar on my body from every country explored.

I've met (and been befriended by) all walks of people, from nuclear submarine engineers to basket weavers.

I've swum in crystal clear, ice cold, sinkholes (cenotes), surrounded by the ancient ruins of the Maya.

I've written letters to companies when displeased with a product or service.

I've fallen asleep under the stars.

I've hitchhiked.

I've eaten some pretty odd things (like a bag of giant, fried ants and a bowl of pig snout soup).

I've been overwhelmed by choice.

I've been lonely.

I've learned how to converse and question in Spanish without any formal education—Español de la calle.

I've straddled the line between the northern and southern hemispheres.

I've lent out money that was never returned to me.

I've taken without giving.

I've been taken off a bus in the middle of the night and questioned by the military.

I've discovered that I'm not addicted to the Internet, but to connectivity. I don't browse Web sites without purpose, I almost never instant message, but my personality absolutely requires access to e-mail.

I've still never gotten around to watching a cock fight or eating Cue (guinea pig—found in Ecuador and Peru).

I've never once wanted to go back to the United States.

I've learned to sew/mend my own clothing.

I've made seashell jewelry (necklaces and an anklet).

I've grown a beard

I've been leered at and attacked by farm animals.

I've snuck into Machu Picchu.

I've had to jump off the second story of a hotel because I was locked in.

I've lied and argued with immigration/border officials.

I've bribed people.

I've seen many of the world's largest, tallest, deepest, highest, oldest, and most unique things.

I've never gone a day without smiling.

I've thwarted a pickpocket attempt.

I've left a hotel without paying (because of lies).

I've listened in awe to Howler Monkeys.

I've seen a giant sea turtle laying eggs on the beach.

I've witnessed an angry power company cut the juice to an entire city, without warning (such as at eight o'clock on a Friday night).

I've gone months without hot water (showers or otherwise).

I've lived off of bread and cheese when there were no other affordable options.

I've got this overwhelming urge to create—I feel like building a city. I'll call it the SimCity syndrome—I know I could do better than so many of the little towns and villages that I've passed through.

I've intentionally skipped at least a dozen major "must see" tourist attractions.

I've learned how to sail.

I've jumped off waterfalls.

I've ridden in the back of an ambulance.

I've decided that the two most obnoxious and inconsiderate groups of young, male travelers, come from Israel and Argentina.

I've come to accept that it's almost impossible to escape the sound of a ringing cell phone.

I've snuck into (and enjoyed the benefits of) an all-inclusive resort.

I've felt a jumbo-jet fly only a few meters above my head.

I've never given money to a beggar (but I have given food).

I've watched a Colombian fútbol game.

I've watched a Puerto Rican baseball game.

I've watched a Grenadian hermit crab race.

I've learned how to size people and situations up much faster.

I've been shocked by an electric shower head.

I've been given the Spanish name Sergio, and introduce myself by it often.

I've washed my clothes by hand in countless sinks.

I've hand my teeth cleaned in a developing country.

I've seen a lot of poverty.

I've seen real people used as live mannequins in window displays.

I've heard music by Shakira, on a daily basis, for months on end.

I've worked as best I can to make subtle improvements to Travelvice.

I've been in a car accident (we T-boned another car).

I've been inside the cockpit.

I've read heaps of books.

I've had cockroaches scurry across my feet and one fly into my hair.

I Want…

I want to go back in time and visit a world without obnoxiously loud, polluting, muffler-less vehicles and loudspeakers of every type—God help us all when they're combined together.

I want to visit cities without subsistence tourism.

I want subsistence businesses to figure something else out. These can be a sad eyesore that don't even make enough money for the proprietors to live above the poverty level. Masses of small convenience stores next to each other, street vendors selling lottery tickets, cell phone cards, fried chicken, finger puppets, postcards, bottles of water, clothing, and tuk tuk (3-wheeled motorcycle) taxis…

No, I don't want to buy your tour or warez while I'm laying on the beach. Leave me alone—tell your friends.

I want you to never mention my president. I will walk away from a conversation and/or person if President Bush becomes the topic. The world has been collectively laughing or yelling at the U.S. President for at least two decades now—I don't want to hear it, and I don't want to be around ignorant conversation on the subject. Move on.

I want to pee for free. A civilized nation should not charge people to use the bathroom. I have seen men, women, boys, and girls urinating freely in public in nearly every country I've visited.

I want to disappear every stray dog I see. I am completely without compassion for these animals—the real four-legged equivalent of a pigeon.

I want someone to explain to me why Panama and Ecuador use the United States' dollar, but mint their own coins (as well as use the U.S. variety).

I want to build a proper home for travelers—a hostel, if you will. After living in so many that are done so poorly, I have an overwhelming desire to contribute this to the backpacker community.

I want someone to explain to me why I've never seen a lawnmower in the past year—it's always one dude armed only with a weed wacker, cutting huge parcels of grass. Silly.

I want to stop hearing the word cheap without what the cost of the good or service is being compared to.

I want people to stop using corrugated steel, one of the ugliest building materials in use on this planet—especially when rusted.

I want to find the camera that's everything I want, and more.

I want to pay US$1/hour or less for every hour traveled in a bus.

I want that Aussie, on his 17th beer of the evening, to stop climbing that coconut tree.

I want to drive.

I want the Venezuelan airline Aeropostal to kiss my ass.

I want justice exacted on the guys that stole from me.

I want my diet to stop consisting of 70% carbs (bread, rice, pasta). I dislike that it often costs me too much money to cook a real meal for one.

I want someone to explain to me why everything that's apple flavored in Colombia is colored pink.

I want to completely understand the indecipherable speech of the Caribbean native.

I want to know why peanut butter is consistently one of the most expensive products in a market—literately worth its weight in gold.

I want to give postcard photography a shot.

I want to learn how to understand and speak (at an elementary level) at least 10 more languages.

I want to return to Caribbean blue water and white sand beaches with a lover.

I want to know why all police in Puerto Rico drive around with their emergency lights on.

I want to encourage more people to travel (and leave their comfort zone while doing so).

I want footwear that actually fits properly, while looking good.

I want all episodes of The Simpsons dubbed over in Spanish to be burned—horrible, just horrible.

I want to get into a gym and loose/tone 20 pounds worth of excess.

I want to find a source of income that allows me to keep traveling perpetually.

I want Colombia and Ecuador to stop playing Jean Claude Van Damme movies on their buses.

I want my hair to behave itself. It's been half a year since my last haircut, and it's driving me crazy. (Not bad for a guy who use to get a trim every three weeks).

I want sushi, but can't afford it.

I want hostels to provide me with a decent locker.

I Love…

I love hyper-blue water and snow-white beaches.

I love the price of Argentinean steak and wine.

I love riding in Guatemalan chicken buses while listening La Camisa Negra.

I love backpacking with my brother.

I love lit fireplaces in the mountains of South America, and bonfires on the beaches of the Caribbean.

I love having no idea what it is that I'm eating/drinking, but ordering another because it's so good.

As much as I might like a city, I love the act of leaving it. I take great pleasure in reflecting on how much I knew about a place before and after I encountered it.

I love Ecuador for loving corn as much as I do.

I love waking up next to someone in bed with me.

I love that you can buy dynamite on the streets in Bolivia for US$1 a stick.

I love smoking a hand rolled Honduran cigar from one of the top factories in the world.

I love finding that 1-3,000 person that I'll keep in contact with, or will keep in contact with me.

I love sunrises and sunsets over the ocean.

I love looking at a star-filled night sky with zero light pollution.

I love being the first person someone has ever seen smoke tobacco from a pipe.

I love the conveniences of sailing in the Caribbean.

I love getting a better price for something.

I love hammocks.

I love breaking many American stereotypes.

I love sneaking into places I shouldn't be.

I love living with locals.

I love being stimulated by new sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches.

I love how I'm generally challenged more on a daily basis abroad than I was in a given week in the United States. It's difficult to get bored.

I love showing Argentineans how to grill corn over coals for the first time.

I love finding the cheapest path.

I love the chaos of a Central American market.

I love having tanned skin.

I love traveling without another backpacker/tourist in sight.

I love salt fish and breadfruit—the cornerstone of islander subsistence.

I love taking photos of oddities in the environment around me.

I love the urban stencil graffiti found in South America.

I love antique pocket watches.

I love the first glimpse of a new city.

I love staring out the window of a bus while listening to mellow music, and watching the countryside melt past.

I love hot showers, and feeling clean.

I love drinking soda (way too much).

I love a good debate.

I love to note and compare the different types of materials used in the construction of homes.

I love the crazy names of places I've visited: Dzibilchaltún, Tegucigalpa, Quetzaltenango, Bucaramanga, Huacachina…

I love vanishing from a city without a trace.

Related Year-1 Anniversary Writings

Comments:

Kerri Krist

December 15th, 2006

That's lovely, Craig. Kudos for your reflections and your honesty.

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