Monthly Archives: April 2017

…When I Learn to Fly

  1. “I’ll make my way back home when I learn to fly.”
    -Foo Fighters, Learn to Fly

Friends,

I’m coming up on 5 months abroad now, the last three of which have been in Nicaragua, and, seeing as I just returned from a visa renewal trip to Costa Rica, it’s safe to say I don’t have any immediate plans to go back to Canada. I do have plans and intentions but the only person I’ve really opened up to about my intentions is fellow film-maker, Alex Loubert, but even that was a few weeks back and plans have refined since then. So for whomever is interested I’d like to elucidate upon the plans which have been formulating in my head. My intention here is to not only clarify my intent for friends and family, but to give some advance notice to those who may wish to collaborate on the ongoing art project which is my life.

OVERVIEW

Over the next two years I intend to improve myself and broaden my skill-set in order that I may live on the road indefinitely, making money as I need to and not being tethered to the balance of my savings. Also, should I ever return to Canada I want to have a skill-set which will allow me to live on my own terms and not on the indulgence of an employer.
(In the words of Cam’Ron: “Nobody gonna pay you like you pay yourself.”)
Also, and this is of equal import, I wish to improve myself while at the same time seeing as-yet-unseen parts of the world which I have always yearned to see. Perhaps at the end of this excursion I may be ready to put down roots and stay in one place.
No promises though…

WHERE TO BEGIN?…

About a month ago I spent a few days at Momentom Collective, a yoga and circus focused artist residency in San Juan Del Sur co-founded by Gabrielle Buenaciudad and Therese Lowton.

It was an eye-opening stay as I was immersed in a culture of incredibly high-functioning, supportive, positive and open people. Being there really fucked with some obsolete programming I have been holding onto for years; I kinda felt like I was short-circuiting at times as I internalized possibilities for myself which were fundamentally rooted in trusting myself and my intuition. I realized how much I second-guess my inclinations and how much this tendency has stifled me and postponed my full flowering, no homo.
(*On that note, living in Canada, especially near Toronto, with its “progressive” SJW culture, has been degenerative for my psyche, especially when compounded by working in tv/film where I felt pressure to be inoffensive due to the collaborative nature of the industry. I certainly don’t wish to offend anyone but being removed from the industry, the city and the country fills me with a sense of freedom to speak which I ironically haven’t felt since I was in the military. Go figure!).
Since my time there (Momentom) I have made a concerted effort to be trusting of my inclinations and urges and to be deliberate rather than furtive in my overtures.
It’s actually a lot of fun as a big part of it is just saying whatever is on my mind. As a role model I look to Archer and just pretend I have Asperger’s -I say some real funny shit sometimes. Bartending at Surfing Turtle has been great for this because its a license to be deliberate about opening people up and the best way to do that is often brutal, hilarious and honest observation.

But, back to the topic of self-improvement….

My friend Brandon Gowe is fond of saying, “Always have at least three hustles.” There is a lot of truth in this statement, but three is a bare minimum. Right now I:

-Sell jewelry (Occasional)
-Get paid to teach yoga (Occasional)
-Chop a dime here and there (Occasional and illegal)

As you can see my bare minimum three hustles need work. Here is what I intend to do….

NICARAGUA

I have been living in #CarpeDiemEcoProject helping my good friend, Ghislain Beauchamp build the eco-resort he has been dreaming of opening for years. We get closer and closer to completion every week and things are quickening now with large-scale construction projects commencing this week which will see the camp overrun with local contractors and carpenters as well as the usual group of volunteers building with cob.
However, the reality is that it’s getting late in the season and he has floated the idea of closing the place down for the year as soon as mid-May as opposed to June as in previous years. So, using that as a rough timeline I’ve begun to plan life after CDEP.
As mentioned, I’ve been working part-time at #SurfingTurtleLodge and I’m enjoying it immensely, so I’ve naturally thought about switching to full-time. That idea certainly has some lustre and I’m not 100% against it because it would be great hostel-work experience which will be valuable for the next two years (more on that soon), but right now I feel pulled in a different direction.

HONDURAS

Pursuant to my goal of improving myself through a broader skill-set I have set the intention of heading north to Utila, Honduras and doing a divemaster certification. Apparently it can be done for about $1000 USD and it would be a pliable skill anywhere I went in the world with a coastline. Also, Utila is a paradise chock full of reefs, whale sharks and beautiful people. Being in Central America you hear a lot of grape-vine talk about hot places to go and this is one such place which is thankfully something of a hidden gem still. As a bonus, when I mentioned it to Ghislain, a dive instructor who had lived and worked there 5 years ago, he mentioned he was thinking of going back in May for a visit. This would be amazing as I would have a knowledgeable and experienced travel companion and good friend to roll with. Fingers crossed!

POST-HONDURAS

The next for-sure mark to hit after Honduras and divemaster cert would be North Africa. Timeline-wise I’m thinking I would like to get there by late 2017 or early 2018. My intention is primarily to see the Sahara and roughly re-create Santiago’s journey from “THE ALCHEMIST,” but there’s flex on start/end points and route.

To begin with, how to get there? Well, right now the most appealing option is to hop on a yacht in the Caribbean and work as crew to get across the Atlantic. That would be dope and satisfy a longing to do a trans-oceanic voyage. Ideally I would like to end up in Spain where I would begin my Alchemist journey in Andalucia, possibly after hiking the Camino de Santiago in the north (Lukazs, Tom, let’s do this!!).

Another way I might make my way to Spain would be less direct -heading to Mexico, then up the Baja California, through Cali, Oregon, Washington and BC finally seeing the Pacific Northwest that has enchanted me for so long and possibly working as a weed trimmer there if its the right time of year -As far as trimming goes, it’s great coin, but I’m more interested in doing it for the experience before everything becomes legal. In any event, once I got back to Canada I would finally hitch-hike across Canada like I’ve been intending to for years, stopping briefly in Ontario before jumping off to Spain to begin aforementioned Trans-Saharan Caravan.

#NOTHINGISWRITTEN (NORTH AFRICA)

I’m gonna immerse myself in the desert and just get consumed by the wasteland. But I’m also gonna take my time with it, working at hostels, doing workaways, woofing if possible, learning the language and making my way incrementally across the northern part of the African continent to the pyramids. If possible I would like to do more apprenticeships with jewelers, learning local styles and improving my skill-set. In Morocco, my first country after Spain, I intend to head to the Atlantic coast there and check out the fledgling aurf scene and see if my divemaster cert could be put to use.
In the desert itself I wanna go to an oasis soooooo bad. Oases have always enchanted me so I’m gonna live in one.
For the record, I am quite frightened of possible run-ins with extremist groups like ISIS but I figure I’m gonna be more of a curiosity to them than anything. I have joked that maybe they’ll kidnap and force me to make jewelry for them which would be kinda dope, but I was only half-joking: I wanna find out for myself who’s out there instead of just believing the news. Maybe I’ll write an ethnography.
If it turns out they do want to execute me I’ll try and see the humor in it and laugh on the way to my execution -it’s the only victory we can truly have in life.
This whole African excursion is gonna be gully and by the time I get to Egypt I will be ready to begin the next phase: INDIA.

PSYCH! SAUDI ARABIA…MAYBE…

I wanna see the Arabian desert because for me it represents a wasteland more inaccessible and dangerous than that of Northern Africa. Seriously, going there scares me not because of the harsh conditions but because of the strict observance of Islamic law. If they catch you slippin’, well….. Let’s just say there’s nothing scarier than an establishment that will kill you with impunity for perceived transgressions and all the while believe they are acting righteously *cough* police *cough*…
No guarantees on this one but it’s definitely a possibility.

INDIA

I have been teaching yoga for a while, and I’ve been practicing it for years, but I have yet to get certified and thus learn much of the associated theory. Certification will also lend more credibility to me when I apply to various hostels and hospitality locations looking for work. And really, what better place than India to learn yoga? There are many great places here in Central America to get certified and I will certainly broaden my yoga skill-set over time here, but remember, an important part of these next two years is seeing places I haven’t seen. So as well as getting my cert I am going to see India , feast like a king and maybe buy a monkey. Who knows!?

SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Finally, I will make my way to SE Asia. You know, it’s a wonder I haven’t been here yet. For some people it’s their first exposure to backpacking, but even after more than ten years of excursions its uncharted territory for me. As far as self-improvement goes, all along the trip I will be developing my massage skill and reiki aptitude, and here in SE Asia I feel like I could really develop my Thai massage skill-set. Beyond that I’m not sure what I want from this place (food), but I know I gotta see it as it will (mostly) wrap up all my loose ends of bucket list places to see.

EPILOGUE

I’m not sure who I will be when this is all said and done and if I will be ready to buy property and build something of my own, or if I’ll want to come back to Canada or if I’ll want to pursue trips to Patagonia, the Peruvian desert, Antarctica, Eastern Europe, etc. (The bucket list never actually ends) I can literally do anything I want to do. My biggest challenge is aiming high.

So if you don’t know now you know, nigga(s)!

EPI-EPILOGUE

I owe special recognition to two very important people in my life who have precipitated a great desire for growth within me.

First would be Ghislain -meeting him and visiting his project last year was a very serendipitous experience for me and he embodies qualities that I aspire to embody myself. He is a skilled, positive, hard-working, dynamic individual comfortable with himself as a man and as a member of a community. It is by the strength of his will that the culture of CDEP is what it is. I admire the dude and feel honored to count him among my friends.

Second would be Marijo Lariviere. She is one of the most talented people I know whose ability to thrive anywhere in the world with her skill-set has inspired me greatly in my current path. Whether it’s yoga instruction, hair-dressing, jewelry-making, etc… She has so many valuable practical skills that it really made me reflect on what I bring to the table, what I could offer others (manual labor, carry a gun), and realize that I could do better. She made me aspire to improve myself if only to be of greater service to the people around me.

In closing I want to say I can be better than I am. I don’t say that with self-denigration or regret but with optimism, love for myself, and excitement to see the man I am evolving into.

I hope you enjoy the show too.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Eli Eastwood: Cowardice & Faggotry

Eli laid in the spare bed staring at the ceiling. He felt no inclination to move into the next bed two feet away and make love to the woman lying there in a negligee. Those inclinations had passed. It wasn’t that the sex had been bad or unfulfilling -on the contrary; he’d had his first tantric orgasm with her and she was a good mix of submissive and assertive. It simply didn’t feel righteous anymore and that was enough for him

So why be here? He didn’t know what he wanted from her. It wasn’t a free place to stay -he would have been much happier at the cheap hostel he normally stayed at. There he could stay up all night, plying his craft, listening to gangsta rap and noone questioned his behaviour. Here, if he stayed up late in the kitchen doing that, especially since the sex had stopped, it would arouse suspicions and cause more tension between them. Yet here he was in her house just the same, not knowing for sure why. He supposed it might have had something to do with keeping everything lovely until the conclusion of their business together -collaborating on an artisan’s market- and he highly doubted that their “friendship” would continue past that climax. Since he had stoped sleeping with her It had gotten to the point where everything she did annoyed him and it was a struggle for him to be patient and kind to her. It transcended rationality too: He had been in town the night before and had dropped by expecting her to be home. The fact that she hadn’t been home had irked him. How dare she not be at his beck and call when he was being self-sacrificial and putting up with her?

No, instead some scared Swedish girl -a boarder he supposed- had opened the viewport and nervously told him that she, Kay, wasn’t home.

That fuckin’ Swedish girl. That broken little human being. Eli didn’t have much patience for scared people, much less use for them. He felt they were disappointing as human beings. On some fundamental level they had failed where they could have excelled simply by having a spine. The Swedish girl had been scared of him, he could see that in her eyes, and it was entirely irrational as she had been “protected” from him by a steel door. What a waste of a human.

Jack barked at a noise and Eli looked over at him disdainfully. He thought about how he hated scared animals most of all. Jack’s barking was a symptom of his history of abuse. Kay had rescued him and apparently his original owners had broken his bones and beaten him. As the dog’s big, sad, scared eyes eyed Eli warily, the latter felt a longing to see the dog whipped and beaten until he whimpered in submission and/or learned to shut the fuck up. He could barely tolerate Jack’s furtive movements when he wasn’t barking, but when he was barking, and because Eli knew that barking to be a fear-based reaction to noises in the night…well it was almost too much to bear.

Eli hated Jack. What was worse was that he knew this hatred, like his annoyance with Kay, was irrational, but that still didn’t diminish it. Hating Jack felt good. He was a useless piece of shit faggot of a dog who regularly got humped by Lola (a spunky female 2/3 his size). God how he wanted to just smash Jack in the face with a balled-up fist as he slept one of his nervous, fidgety naps.
It wasn’t all Jack’s fault Eli supposed; in her compassion perhaps Kay over-indulged him. She said he didn’t like men and since she accepted this as one of the realities of Jack’s disposition she never tried to correct this antisocial behaviour in earnest. At most, she would gently raise her voice to quiet him down.
The saddest part was that Kay’s raised voice, even muted from the other end of the house, was often still enough to make him stop barking. God, what a pathetic faggot of a dog, lacking even the spirit to defy a barely-heard master of obliging disposition.
At night, when they lay in bed not having sex, sharing the bedroom with 2 dogs and 4 cats (this irked Eli greatly but he kept his mouth shut…mostly), Kay would have to tell Jack to stop licking his paws (the scared little fucker would stop too) because it was apparently a nervous habit which he had that was analogous to a nervous human biting their fingernails. Jesus, not only was this dog a scared little pussy faggot, he was also a neurotic Jew.

God, Eli wanted to smash him good. As if hearing and understanding Eli’s inner monologue through the assistance of some telepathic, human to dog translating apparatus, Jack widened his eyes at Eli and the big ivory whites were plainly visible as he stared sidelong.

“Keep eyeballing me you fuck!” Eli thought. “One day Kay will leave me alone in the house and you’ll fucking suffer for every time you barked at me, or a noise, or whatever.”

This revenge fantasy had a certain cathartic effect -it satisfied a darkness within Eli that he knew he had yet to overcome. He was typically good-natured -a dope-smoking yoga enthusiast and beach bum, so he recognized how out of place and problematic these thoughts were and he was introspective enough to look at where they came from. Why did he hate scared people and animals? Well that was easy -he was scared himself. All the macho bravado and posturing aside, he hadn’t overcome his fears of death, dismemberment, etc. He supposed with the latter two (dismemberment, etc) he would find a way to make the aftermath of whatever tragedy befell him his new normal and therefore adapt. In the case of death, he knew nothing would matter once he was dead, but he did fear dying “badly.”

Was that it though? Did that account for his hatred of weakness and fear?

No.

His hatred of Jack and the Swedish girl went deeper than his own fear. It went to the child he was and how small and inadequate he had felt in comparison to his step-father and his older step-brother. He despised how ineffectual he had felt because he had no inclination to work on chores like they had. He had to be forced to work with vague notions of the corporal punishment which would befall him of he didn’t pull his weight. And these notions of punishment were never too vague because getting smacked around, mostly by his mother, had been a regular occurrence.

His mother. That was it. More than his step-father and step-brother criticizing his lack of work ethic it was his mother smacking him around and emasculating him for indolence that made him feel really inadequate as a child. He had been scared of her. They had been close to be sure, and she could very often be the best mother in the world, but Eli clearly remembered her dark side and the thud of the untrained, balled-up fists of a bigger human being crashing down on the side of his head as he cowered and tried to guard with his forearm.
He smiled as he remembered getting hit. When they had taken his mother to court on charges of abuse during his late teens he had racked his memory for all the times she had hit him. He obviously couldn’t remember everything, but there were 5 or 6 incidents which he could remember very clearly and give approximate dates for. Such accounts, of explicit physical abuse, were necessary as their factual, tangible nature made them play better in court, but the memories of being hit didn’t trouble Eli; indeed many of the later accounts of physical violence happened when he was bigger than his mother and already starting to see a way out. By that point her violent flailing was known to be survivable and her dinner-plate throwing was amusing.
Instead, what troubled Eli, even to this day years later, was not the outbursts but those eternal, torturous moments where she would make him run a psychological gauntlet of interrogation and intimidation and he would watch in slow motion as her disposition went from inquisitive to suspicious to intimidating to violent, hateful and emasculating, all the while increasing his fear so that his insufficient answers sounded more weaselly and contemptible even to his own ears.

She made him so afraid that he hated himself for being a coward and so he hated all cowards.
Cowards like Jack.
Cowards like the Swedish girl.
Cowards like himself.

Did he hate her?
He thought about this for a moment but decided he didn’t because that would be too easy. He hated the way she made him feel but he didn’t hate her -his attitude toward her was actually surprisingly enlightened, especially when contrasted to his attitude toward Jack and the Swede whom he realized were largely blameless recipients of his hatred.

No, he didn’t hate his mother. He didn’t fear her either, not exactly. He did however have an appreciation and respect for the power she still had over him. In the last few years there had been many overtures toward reconciliation and for a time things had been good, but she had darkness deep down inside her and when she felt she had gotten her hooks nice and deep she tried to leverage their newfound relationship by having him turn against his step-father, her estranged ex-husband. It was a desperate act from a desperate woman and even through his resentment of her attempt and betrayal of his trust, he still felt pity for her. She was a ruined woman who had ruined two marriages (and who knew how many other relationships during the years they hadn’t spoken) and she was more than a quarter-century past “the wall.”
She’d had it all, twice and fucked it up, TWICE.
When Eli considered this he felt only love, pity and compassion for his clearly disturbed mother….but he wouldn’t allow her to get her duplicitous hooks in him again.

Perhaps part of the reason he was here -in Nicaragua, not specifically in this platonically tense slumber party with a self-proclaimed witch (Oh yeah, Kay also professed to be a witch)- was that he was staying as far away from her as he could. He knew her parents, his grandparents, were getting older and their passing would force the family together, but only if he allowed himself to be forced. He didn’t intend to allow that.

“If they want to reconcile they can come here,” he thought bitterly, yet knowing deep down that this separate peace brought him no peace at all.

Jack exhaled loudly as he shifted his position on the ground.

“Fuck you, you piece of shit,” he thought, and then turned over and tried to sleep.

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