Monthly Archives: September 2011

Lets Get This Show on the Road

My Friends,
   After some long days of document re-issuance and wound-licking,  I am ready to set out again in search of adventures.  I got a pssport and money, which are really the only things you need for adventure..  Will be spending one last night in Lisboa, which has been the equivalent of the city of Darwin on my trip to Australia; I ended up staying longer than i planned and the trip really jumped off when i left.  Found a really nice and cheap hostel last night in spite of my plans to sleep in a building  under  construction (I promised I would sleep indoors, Anita lol) But the hostel was great and the price was right.  Ill spend the night there and maybe takee a trip to the bookstore I was at lastnight and finish reading the graphic noveel I started.
   Speaking of reading I started “Men Without Women” by Ernest Hemingway.  I could not find a replacement copy of Don Quixote but its ok because I have wanted to read Hemingway since I heard him refeerred to as the Biggie Smalls of American Literature.  As a bonus, most of the short stories in this book take place in European cities I will be visiting so that wwill help me contectualize.
   What has made the last few days bearable for me is slowing ddowwn the pase of life.  Without a schedule save for deadlines with the embassy I am moving on local time: I  have learned to aappreciate my afternoon espresso and brandy and converssing  with the locals.  Through this interaction my Portuguese has improved, but itt is not yet  high-tech enough to have arguments with the locals about futebol.
    Another hard-earned lessson is not to pinch a penny so hard: while I am on a shoe-string budget I  should heed the sage advice of the great traveller, Tanya Gouveia,  who told me prior to my departure about not depriving myself for anything i want.  Well she was right, and depriving myself of a bed for the sake of frugality and proof of ruggedness ended up being a costly prospect for both myself and my support base at home.
   In regards to the help I received from home in my tume of need, I felt bad taking help: I had sincerely wanted to do this trip on my own.  But this logic is self-defeating as I know that we are not alone in this world: It is a symbiotic place and to pretend otherwise is folly.  Besides, I had no such qualms when Wilson, Victor, or Joana (locals I meet) helped me out.  In fact, this whole trip with its hitchhiking and couchsurfing bent, is  predicated on the notion that we all need help sometimes.  I just hope that when my benefactors are in time of need, that they don not hesitate to come to me.
    That is all I am going to say; spirits are high and I face the better part of the world both humbled and a little wiser.  Are my troubles finished?  I dont know.  But I am not.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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Make a Little Somethìn out of Nothin (sorry forrr the typos)

My Friends,
   Tragedy has struck.  While sleeping on the beach on Madeira Island on Sunday night, some (likely mustachioed) rake absconded with my backpack as I slept a little too deeply beside it.  I woke up in shock at its absence and spent the better part of the morning and afternoon with the Machico police, getting my visa cancelled and arranging emergency money.  I spoke with my parents as well and arranged for them to book me a flight back to mainland.   I had everything in that  backpack: money, wallet, passport, shoes, clothes, camp gearr, noteebooks, compass etc..   All in, there was about $2000 worth of backpacking kiit that I had acquired over the last five years.

                                                             “And now its all gone.”
 Obviously, this theft, especiially so early on, has been a serious blow to my confidence in  my ability to complete this undertaking as planned.  Sadly, I think we all know what  this means: I must noww do this trip in  hadcore mode.
   Let me explain: yesterday, in spite of the theft and the hunger, and the hoours spent with police, i managed to hold it together betterr than i would have expected.  However, when the saleslady forr TAP airline gave me 10 euros for food I broke down and cried.   More tears came when the flight attendats, learning of my circumstance gave me all food and cookies i wanted on the plane ride to Lisbon.  In spite of getting robbed by one strrrray douche, many people are still so good and helpful and itts them who i typiccally have the pleasure of running into.  As well, somewhere in all of this crying I realized that what i was upset abbout was not the loss of my gear; its just stuff that is eminently replaceable.  I was crrying because having initially decided to go home i felt i had failed and was going to miss my window of opportunity in life for this undertaking.  That thought depressed me more than any other.
    Also, drunk off Port wine on myfirst night in the country i wrote in my notebook something alongthe lines of how CCanadians arre the strrongest, most rrobust (sorrry this keyboarrd sucks) people on the  planet and that i wasnt going to let any nation get the best of me.  Well, Hemingwwaay said that “you  should always do sober whatyou said youd do drunk, (that way  you learn to keep your fool mouth  shut)”.  I  subscrribe to this point of view and its pretty much why iw went to afghanistan and australia lol. 
  So heres  what i was left with afterr the theft: desert camo cargo pants, eucalyptex shirrt long sleeve, eucalyptex bandana, flip  flops, spandex underrwear, petzl headlamp, 2x nalgene bottles, toque, sleeping rrroll, belt, wwatch.  I have since augmented that with a new lighter duty backpacck, which should be adequate for my new lighter load. 
  Herre is a small list of some items lost that couldneverr be rreplaced: my rrregimental flag, my  kabar knofe i ccarrrried on  all of my afghanistan patrols, my  rrhyme book (sorrrry shane, the album might be delayed) and of courrse my two pipes, both of which werre given to me by fatherr.  The loss of these saddens me morre than anything.

   Of ccourse, i  aalso lost my copy of Don Quixote but his lessons came thrrough in  my time of sadness: He and Sanccho  have been rrrobbedd sevveral times so  far (and worse) and he keeps on keepin on.  Setbaccks are parrt of adventure and i could not claim to be  any kind of adventurer if I turrned and went home att  the first impediment.  One day I will  laugh at this setback and hopefully i can offerr some futue  traveller calm rrreassurance that as long as youree alive you are ok (especially ifyou have a lovving family as a supporrt base).  Basically, the worrld fucked me so Im going to fuck it back.
   I realize ihavent said much regarrding the time between my lst entry and the theft.  RRest  assured oll make some point forrm notes about the food, tthe sights and even  an errrant nipple when i get to a keyboard that  isnt like fucking lego.
Remember: “The best way out is through” -Courage Wolf
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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Big Shot in Portugal

My Friends,
   I am in a shitty little internets cafe in Lisbon right now.  I have been in Portugal for just under 48 hours but it seems like longer.  Certainly the tempo of my trip has been high and I have covered a lot of ground.  I started in Porto in the NW of the country.  After my couchsurfing contact failed to meet me at the designated spot I figured I was on my own and walked through the city, eventually working my way south of the Douro River to Vila Nova de Gaia, the location of all of Porto´s Port Wine cellars.  Crossing the bridge into that land of milk and honey, I truly felt as if I had reached the promised land.

All of those warehouses stacked haphazardly in the mountain are dispensaries of fine Port wine…fucks yeah
I went to the Quinta de Noval cellar, purchased a bottle and crushed about half of it on the patio whils leisurely watching the day pass by.  But as nightfall approached I realized that facedown drunk in a gutter was not how I wanted to spend my evening.  So I hopped a bus to Valadares (sic) beach thinking Id camp in some dunes but on the bus a girl overheard my difficulty talking to the bus driver and started asking me about my travels.  I was pretty silly of the wine so I dont remember how the convo went but I was invited to meet with her and her boyfriend for coffee.  They were an interesting and well-travelled couple and gave me lots of advice on places to go but unfortunately they couldnºt offer me a couch to crash on to replace the one I had missed out on.  When we parted ways it was dark and though I had intended to go to the beach and sleep I had inexplicable energy and decided to wak along the beach to the lights in the distance, which it turned out, were the lights of Espinho.
   I dont know exactly how far I walked; about as far as you can walk in three hours I guess. When I finally got to the Espinho promenade it was around midnight and there were still some people out. But as I continued it didnt occur to me that the areas was getting less tourism friendly and more ghetto every block.  Around the same time I thought to myself  “hey this kind of looks like a low-income area where violent crimes would be wont to take place,” I rounded a corner and came into view of a group of ruffians smoking some shit.  They started advancing toward me tentatively and asking me to come over and smoke some hash with them.  I politely refused their offer while walking as fast as my fucking legs could take me.  Luckily trhey relented.  But it occurred to me that the knife I had strapped to my leg would avail me little in a altercation with six dudes when I was encumbered by a pack.  In fact, I was lucky they hadnt seen it or else they might have been provoked.  I resolved that from then on I wouldn´t wear it anymore at night to deter potential accosters, as it would likely bring more attention and therefore more menace.
   I ended up backtracking to the casino after some Portuguese Bag Lady gave me directions to the main road to Lisbon but decided that the day had been long enough.  I got back to the sand dunes I had traversed earlier and set up camp 4am … about an hour later it started raining.
   I spent my second day walking the long road from Espinho to Aveiro (the Venice of Portugal).  My attempts at hitchiking had been abortive and with a blister developing on my right heel after walking the better part of two days I was starting to despair.  But I kept my thumb out whilst hobbling forward and hoped for the best.  After three hours people driving by me (its funny when you hitchhike, , some people look away from you, some veer away from you, some veer toward you as a joke and others just throw up their hands as if to say “I wish I could help my dude, but go fuck yourself instead”) I was fionally picked up by Wilson, a student on his way to class and coincidentally a Portuguese counterpart in the army reserves.  Originally he said he would take me a couple of miles further south cause he had to get to class.but as we got to talking he he realized that he´d rather bang wit a real OG such as myself than spend a friday afternoon in a classroom.  So he drove me all the way to Aveiro, stopped at the now-abandoned soccer futebol stadium built for the Euro Cup a few years back
It could be yours for only 16,000,000 Euros
bought me dinner, showed me around the city, found me some internets, tried to hook me up with friends in Lisbon, bought me a bottle of wine and was generally a standup guy. 
Me and Wilson with my regimental flag with Aveiro canals and gondolas in the background
I am ashamed to admit that the whole time I was thinking this guy is trying to hustle me somehow, but he said only that its how he would want to be treated if he was a “walker” (hitchhiker) and that to pay him back I could return the favour when he visits Canada. He was a good dude and when he drove me to train station later so I could catch the train to Lisbon my biggest problem was bewing further encumbered by a map of Portugal he gave me and a second bottle of wine (I still had the Port from the previous night).  But don´t worry, I solved the problem of these two bottles on the train ride to Lisbon. 
  I am in Lisbon now, it s a beatiful city with crazy architecture and narrow, curvy alleys.  It is a relic of a time before zoning laws, when immediate necessity was the dominant guideline fo what was built and how it was built.  I wandered around the better part of the night, talking to people, meeting people in bars, looking for a place to camp out and generally getting over the fear I had had about the criminal element in the city (Wilson had warned me it was dangerous).  The problem of sleeping was a difficlut one and it made me acutely aware one of the trials of being homeless: you want to camp out of sight of police so they cant wake you up and tell you to move on, but also within earshot so that they can hear you if you get attacked.  After searching in vain for most of the night I settled on an alley with parked cars blocking me from view.  I think I may have slept an hour on the hard ground at most but with no foam mat (I left most of my gear at the locker in the station and only had a blanket and pillow in my napsack) I woke up shivering at 7am and figured “fuck it, might as well see the city in the daytime.  So I think I am at a grand total of three hours of sleep for the past three days: couldnt sleep on the plane the first night, got rained on the second night and woke up freezing last night.  Surprisingly I am wide awake though (the espresso here is killer).  My plan for today is to head to the airport in a few hours and haggle a cheap flight to Madeira where it should be a little more rural and therefore a little more conducive to camping.  Thanks if you read this far and next time I will endeavcour to be a little less verbose.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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46 Hours and Counting…

My Friends,
   Today has been kind of a whirlwind day and tomorrow promises more of the same.  Headed to the city (Toronto) today to procure a last item from MEC which they unfortunately did not carry.  But I made the most of my geographical circumstance and headed over to the Modrobes store near Queen and Bathurst to peruse their wares.  I ended up outfitting myself for just about my whole trip  while there.  I got some pants and shorts made from recycled water bottles which are comfortable enough but will be put to the test for durability.   What I am most enthused for is the eucalyptex shirts I got.

They pretty much make me look like this … but with a bigger bulge

They are supposed to perform like Under Armor without the smell, which is good because showers may be few and far between.  I’ve been wearing my new gear since I got home and started packing to get used to it, but mostly because the shirts fit me well; tight around the pecs and arms lol.
   In unrelated news, I hate facial hair.  Itchy as fuck!  In the same way one prepares for a vacation by developing a base tan, I am growing a base layer of facial hair in preparation for the unimpeded growth my whiskers will see over the next six months.  The goal is that I blend in better in some of the Mediterranean and Arab countries I will be going to; instead of looking like a tourist, I will look like a vagrant, but a more or less local one.  TMI Tidbit: the carpet will match the curtains XD
   I just finished watching the last episode of Entourage so I have officially tied up all the last strands of shows I have been viewing.  That, more than anything should tell you how ready I am to leave behind the comfort of home and start traipsing about.  However, my sister mentioned to me today (ps, I visited her in Toronto) that Mad Men is worth checking out so at least now I have a new show to watch come my return in the Spring.  
   Anyhow, gotta go endure enjoy last week’s Jersey Shore with my woman cause that’s what good boyfriends do.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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Shutting "Bro" Down

My Friends,
   Today my brother messaged me on FB and referred to me as Brosario Dawson.

Not for nothin’, but I don’t look nearly that good in panties
I felt bad for him when I read this because he has referred to me by this name before and it occurred to me that he might be running out of new ideas for nicknames derived from the word “bro.”  So, to help my bro out, I spent the better part of a trip to Lime Ridge Mall today brainstorming new bro puns while my woman shopped.  Without further ado, The Definitive List of Bro Puns.

Brosario Dawson
Broseph Stalin
Broseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Frozen Brogurt/Brozen Yogurt
Brometheus Bound
Han Brolo
Bromeo & Juliet
Indiana Brones 
The Bro-End Theory

Bronly the Lonely
Brotissimus Dorsi (it controls your fist bump flexors)
Chuck Broris (meme [br]overkill alert!!)
Bro-back Mountain (lame I know)
…shrimp gumbro…

Brorange Julius
Broakley Eyewear
La Vie en Brose (my woman made that one up)
Unterseebrooten/Das Broot
The Notorious Bro.I.G.
Broagie Sandwich
Brocal Chords
*THIS JUST IN* He just texted me and called me “Bro Pesci”
Brosama bin Laden
Barack Brobama
Bromez Addams

Brocestershire Sauce
Bromer Simpson
Pierce Bro-snan
Doc Bro-lliday
The Land Brofore Time V: The Brosterious Island
Binomial Bromenclature
Bay City Brollers
Brohio Players
Chef Broyardee
Brosie O’Donnell:
 “She wears underwear with dickholes in ’em”
Bro Namath/Montana/Mantegna
Bro Way, Jose
Bromar Little
Brogi Bear
Broga Flame

Abro Kadabra
Bronan the Barbarian
Braute Couture
Carbros the Jackal
Brovarian Motor Verks/Works (BMW)
Broservoir Dogs
Inglourious Brosterds
Keyser Broze
Brone Thugz n’ Harmony
Erin Bro-ckovich
Super Saiyan Broku:

His power level …. IT’S BROVER 9000!!

Brogadier General
Supreme Allied Brommander
The Neverending-Ending Brory
Broviet Union:
Iron Bro-fist

Brodeo Drive
Broman Numerals….
K, I think that’s it for the time being.  I will update this list if I need to but there should be enough there to get anyone by for a while.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanabro
P.S. Finished The Wire.  Sick show; go watch it.

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Leaving it all Behind … Not as Simple as it Sounds

My Friends,
   As I leave for my excursion around the world in less than a week I have entered prep mode in a big way. I have figured for some time that there would be certain prudent precautions to take, such as photocopying and scanning important documents so that I would have backups in case of loss or theft.  However, the military travel advisor I met with last week also recommended I go through my entire itinerary (such as it is) and write down the contact information for every Canadian embassy and consulate in every country I will be visiting.  Its sound information to be sure, but tedious as fuck.
   On top of this I still have to procure the Vibram KSO Trek Five Fingers shoes which I mentioned last week.  I went on a bit of a wild goose chase through Toronto last night looking for them and I pretty much have one last shot I am betting on before I go: a shipment arriving at Atmosphere may have the KSO Treks  in my size.  If I am unable to get those shoes, well I will have to rethink things a bit.
   To add to this there is still about $200 worth of gear I want to pick up as well as $200 worth of prescriptions which have to be ordered.  Luckily, in spite of the cost of these last two, they are all relatively easy to procure.  The only problem is that I am trying desperately trying to finish season 5 of The Wire before I go. I have seven more episodes to go so I should be ok, but it has really been interfering with my prep i.e. I got up at 8 today and spent the last three hours watching it when I should have been doing prep.
   For my benefit more than yours, here is an abbreviated to-do list that i must complete before I go:

-finish The Wire
-scan important documents
-make a list of important numbers and contact info -visa, bell, embassies, etc…
-order prescriptions (two day turnover)
-sign off on all military claims so I get all monies (sic) coming to me
-pick up last gear required
-finish that travel playlist (mebbe spend a morning just downloading songs)
-go on and look for available couches beyond just my first city
-have one last night alone with internet porn (note: will have to find a way to remove woman from the equation and come up with a legit reason for why “I’m tired”)
-night out with the boys
-last visit with the family

So yeah I think that’s it.  Wow, its a lot easier to blog about this stuff than it is to actually go out and do it.

Kinda like sex

However, I just caught a bad case of motivation so I am off to get some shit done.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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Its my Party and I’ll be Apathetic if I Want to

My Friends,
   It’s my birthday tomorrow.  While I don’t necessarily dread being another year older, I find that I have a hard time getting excited about this milestone.  27 is not a particularly exciting birthday and I have thought back about how far I have come since I turned 26 and the answer was disappointing.  Not to say I have been slacking off the whole time; I did make some headway in this obstacle course called life:

-graduated with a B.A. in History (finally)
-got my firearm possession/acquisition license and my pistol
-was accepted into an M.A. program at Royal Military College
-made a lot of positive lifestyle changes => eating & exercise habits

Still, I can’t help but dwell on what I perceive as my inadequacies; the things I have yet to do or have not even come close to doing.  But I have a bad feeling that the things which I have yet to do may still not give me the satisfaction I crave.  It seems like I spend all my time in pursuit of various goals and once I achieve them they are not as fulfilling as I hoped they would be.  

Is this what success all about? A bunch of niggas actin like bitches with big mouths?

What do I think of success? It sucks; too much stress…

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems
While these quotations, pertaining to fame and fortune, don’t directly deal with my specific situation and achievements, they do convey a disillusionment that comes with success.  I can only imagine that the disillusionment is proportionate to the success in some way.  However, I don’t deceive myself into thinking that the rich are necessarily unhappy i.e. the old adage that “It is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable.”  In fact, I am sure there are a great many happy, wealthy persons.  I think the problem is that a greater ability to purchase and consume has nothing to do with happiness, and a wealthy person trying to find happiness in material possessions is on a fool’s errand.  Conversely, someone who is poor does not necessarily have a better chance at happiness simply because they have been deprived the means to consume without limit.  They have other impediments to their contentment, like basic survival for example.
I’d rather be rich and unhappy than broke and miserable” 
-A far more apt dichotomy I should think

Apply this same line of reasoning to achievement and not wealth, and a similar pattern emerges.  If there was lasting happiness to be had in achievement, accomplished people would quit while they were ahead.  Instead, happiness is fleeting and must be constantly pursued.  It seems that the more you do in the pursuit of happiness/contentment/satisfaction, the more you need to do.
   And it gets no better for the unaccomplished (sic) either; prior to going to Afghanistan I sorely wanted to be one of those guys in my regiment who was idolized by the younger privates and corporals.  I felt very inadequate for not having done a tour of duty.  I couldn’t even conceive of how a term of service overseas could not be the be all and end all of my life.  Now I have been there and done that (thankfully unscathed) and I feel no different.  The adulation of teenage boys has done less for my self-esteem than you might think.  What I realized is: You don’t actually need any of your achievements, but you have to achieve them to realize how little you need them. (apologies if I have stated this before in a previous entry)
   So, armed with this hard-earned knowledge of how fleeting the satisfaction of achievement is, what do I intend to do? Why, “follow old Obi-Wan” as it were.
Translation: Go on “some damned-fool idealistic crusade”

I know that hitch-hiking around the world won’t bring me all of the happiness to be had in life.  In fact, the chances are very good that it may cause me some stress afterwards as I struggle to get my life back on track and deal with how the people I know have changed or moved on.  I worry that some opportunistic young soul may try to woo the woman I love while she is at her most vulnerable; missing my companionship.  I understand that I may miss births and deaths and I will feel sharp pangs of loneliness around holidays particularly.  I accept this because it is preferable to the alternative: dying slow, or what you might call day to day life.
   I’m starting to think happiness can go fuck itself.  Perhaps there is a benefit to my being perpetually dissatisfied, or at least a reason for it. (inb4: whiny bitch)  Dissatisfaction more than anything has accelerated what drives me.  If I was perpetually happy, well there would be no reason for me to leave the house would there?  So, with this in mind I am resolved to move forward in pursuit of this elusive jackalope called happiness.

This is Chad the jackalope; Happiness is his brother

And even if I don’t catch it, at least I have achieved something.

Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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The Biggest Douche in the Universe

My Friends,
   This weekend I feasted like a king; wedding on Friday night at Hamilton Golf & Country Club, dinner at home Saturday and barbecue at Grandma’s today.  I only mention such opulent dining because this weekend may in fact be the last series of good meals I have for a while.  So I partook in the fashion of one partaking of his last meal.
  It is now ten days until I leave to circumnavigate the globe.  I am excited to be sure but also apprehensive; as confident as I am in my skill in travel, anything can happen and although I have been away 6 months before (Afghanistan), this time I will be alone.  In fact, more than starvation, thirst and threats to my safety, I am concerned with how I will hold up alone for so long.  Even though I will meet a ton of people, they will only be around temporarily.  My previous solo travelling experience has taught me that in spite of all the benefits of travelling by yourself, you never feel so acutely alone as when the sun begins to set and everyone starts heading home, leaving you alone in the darkening world.
   In regards to the title of this post, I have been cramming lately; I have been trying to average at least two episodes of The Wire a day so that I can finish the series by my departure date.  It is going well as I have located a site which allows me to stream the show for free.  The rub is that I must endure pop-up advertisements and sound recordings for every link I click.  Chief among these ads for sheer annoyance is this one:

MacKeeper for Mac OS.  Now I’m not sure if its only mac users who have to endure this ad (although I can imagine it would be doubly annoying for PC users), but for the uninitiated, allow me to direct your attention to the douche in the bottom-right

Worse than a pop-up is a pop-up that talks to me.  Worse still is a pop-up that talks to me when I am trying to catch every bit of witty dialogue I have come to expect from an HBO original series.  So by virtue of those three strikes I have to nominate this guy for BDITU (Biggest Douche in the Universe).  I mean honestly, I know it was probably a paid gig for him, but what amount of money can soften the knowledge that you are probably one of the most hated men on the internets.  I hope he is also a Mac user who streams programs illegally and is made to endure his own douche face as punishment for his crimes.
   The barefoot training is going well.  My feet are getting more resilient every day.  I have a little soreness in my foot bones from overdoing the running on the balls of my feet, but I am confident that will go away as my severely atrophied foot muscles strengthen.  Whatever foot discomfort I must endure, I view it as a necessary inconvenience; in rebuilding my body from the ground up it only makes sense that I have to start with the foundation.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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Light me up that cigarette; DON’T strap shoes on my feet

My Friends,
   I don’t even know where to start.  I feel like I have tons to say about my trip to New York but at the same time I am much more enthusiastic to talk about my ongoing training for bare-footing around the globe.  So first things first, I’ll talk about NYC some and get that out of the way.

I Want to Be a Part of It
   Most people, well some people at least, have been to Manhattan and can attest to the fact that there is enough shit to do there.  Even with no shortage of attractions to spend money on however, you can still have a good time without spending any money at all.  For example, you can…

…do yoga in Central Park…

…pose in front of cool shit…

…or even just say “fuck it,” and climb city infrastructure.  Sometimes you just gotta carry it like that.
   However, a lot of the attractions which are uniquely New York do cost some skrilla money.  This isn’t too much of a problem as most of the costs aren’t too prohibitive, and if you plan ahead you can even bundle together attractions with a city-pass and save some money for street meat.  However, what I found intolerable was the security associated with some of the more famous attractions.  For example, to get to the Statue of Liberty we had to go through two sets of airport-style security (one in Battery Park and the other at the base of the monument).  As well, the last time I went to NYC (August 2008) there were similar security measures to get to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, and I don’t imagine it has changed since that time.  It all seems a little much.  I realize that the city could be a potential terrorism target but is the answer really to treat tourists as suspects?  This suspicion itself does not sit well with me, but it is exacerbated by two factors: For starters, I AM ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS!!  Like for fuck sakes, I went to the ‘ghan, hunted tewwowists and worked with Americans to achieve common ends.  Can’t a pimp get exempted from the anal probe in light of services rendered?
   Second, it seems the vast majority of people in charge of making tourists jump through the hoops of security seem like well…non-persons; the kind of people who I wouldn’t give a second-glance to on the street.  But all of a sudden they are vested with arbitrary power by the state, municipality, country, whatever the fuck, etc… and they have the ability to make my trip suck.  In “All Quiet on the Western Front,” by Erich Maria Remarque, the main character, Paul Bäumer muses while recalling his slave-driving sadist of a corporal during basic training, something to the effect of how “those who are most insignificant in daily life are taken the worst by the military.” (paraphrase)  I think this holds true even for security positions as these people compensate for their low prestige by flexing authority when they can.  But on the other hand, a small minority of these types I have dealt with, whether at the Statue or Liberty, the airport or border crossings do make an effort to put people at ease and process them with minimum difficulty.  So for the future I just have to hone my douche-radar and try and predict which security person will be the most amicable before I pick a line or kiosk to go through.
   So I hadn’t meant for this to be a diatribe against the stringent security measures in NYC and I have already said more about my trip than I had planned to so I’ll just fill in some pertinent details in point-form for the benefit of those who care.
-stay at the Mansfield Hotel on West 44th and 5th Avenue -awesome hotel
-eat street meat; its affordable, delicious and held to strict standards by the city
-Statue of Liberty is cool in spite of security but access to the crown requires advance booking.  When crown booking re-opens (the monument will soon be closing for maintenance) I will book a ticket there and then plan a trip around my crown booking thereafter
-If going to Brooklyn, take the Williamsburg Bridge to Bedford Avenue and head north into the neighbourhood of Williamsburg.  According to Wikitravel, Williamsburg is now what Greenwich Village used to be before yuppies and gentrification.  Definitely a cool scene; quaint and quirky with a certain charm.
-Times Square is equal parts awe-inspiring and suffocating, especially in the evening for the latter.  Worth walking through but know you’ll feel like taking a shower afterward
-Sam’s Pizza in the financial district = motherfuckin dizzope
-Signs for fallout shelters are under-publicized relics that hearken back to a more innocent time when denouncing your neighbour as a communist was an expedient method of disappearing them.  Next time I will bring a wrench so I can hopefully steal one of these bad boys off the side of a building (yes that is me professing intent to commit larceny; realtalk)

K, thats about all that comes to mind right now.  On to….

F-F-F-Fabulous Barefoot Adventures

   Since I began training last week for bare-foot walking I have noticed marked improvement.  The training has consisted thus far of daily walks, conducting my affairs around the house on my tippy-toes and routinely spreading my toes when I am am barefoot in my house (all the time now).  These last few days in New York were mostly recuperative; although I walked a ton I did it with shoes and sandals, save for the few hours I spent walking up the west side of Manhattan au naturel.  But now, back in my element with all acquired abrasions and cuts on my soles healed, I have redoubled my efforts to make up for the last 26 years of abuse my feet have suffered at the hands of my shoes.  To that end I set out barefoot today carrying my backpack, the very same one I will carry on my trip loaded to weigh 32 lbs.  The walk was difficult at first; the pitting and imperfections in the concrete were a lot more pronounced with the extra weight but once I got warmed up and made it to the wooded trail I started on last week, my feet really began to shine.  After a minute or two of acclimatization to the rocky, uneven terrain, I began to adopt a quick pace that I was able to maintain, and on the way up the final hill out of the woods (still gravel and rocks) I even managed to jog.  This was a far cry from my first foray into barefoot-land last week on the same trail where I took twice as long with no added weight.
   This significant improvement has convinced me that I want to do this trip with nothing more than my bare feet and a minimalist shoe such as the Vibram “Five Fingers.”  I was looking at a few of the different models and there does not seem to be one yet designed specifically for bearing a heavy load but the one which looks most amenable to my purposes is the KSO Trek

Made with real kangaroo skin …seriously

I think between these beasts and my bare feet I can probably traverse most of the terrain that will be thrown at me.  So now I must procure a pair to incorporate them into my training regimen.  Till then I keep at it barefoot, which is as real as it gets.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo


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New York’s Finest

My Friends,
    Lo and behold my hotel in NYC has complimentary computers with internets so here I am.  Got to the city yesterday and instantly started traipsing about Manhattan.  As my woman shopped for clothing on 5th Ave I took the opportunity to talk with a salesperson at Juicy Couture.  It was a fortuitous encounter as he was able to recommend a a nice dinner spot for us (Spice Thai Restaurant).  The hotel we are at is bomb as well; the room, while as large as can be expected for standard rooms in one of the busiest cities on Earth, is well furnished, clean and stylish.  There is a really quaint lounge with complimentary espresso bar as well and were there not so much to do in the city I would be inclined to stick around and brush up on Don Quixote.  But alas, adventures await and its better to have them than read about them.  Kind of like sex…
   In reference to the title of this entry, I have noticed a surfeit of police officers in Manhattan.  I am sure that those who have visited can attest to this fact.  However, I have also noticed that they are incredibly friendly and sociable, interacting with the people and taking pics with tourists.  I realize that there are likely more hardened NYPD types in some of the rougher areas of Manhattan and the other boroughs, but its refreshing to have police officers who don’t act like socializing with the public is a required inconvenience of the job.
   My woman and I just got back to our hotel after lunch and a morning of yoga in central park so now we are going to shower up and check out Williamsburg in Brooklyn.  I hear that as well as being a quaint neighbourhood it is also a hipster Mecca.

We’ll see if this rings true.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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