12.30.2012 - 12.30.2012
In Parque Tayrona now. We can't go anywhere without it being a long, hot fatiguing journey, and today was no exception as we scrambled over rocks with our sacks of food and 8 kg of water. Still, I was impressed by the beach I saw. It was much cleaner and wilder than I expected. And for the first time in a long while I smelled that pungent sea smell. Interestingly not every seashore has it. It sent me straight back to California, and I nearly fainted with homesickness.
The people of Colombia on the whole seem almost embarrassingly warm and friendly. I am amazed and shamed by their overtures--shamed that I don't possess such natural openness and sincerity. From what deep well of culture springs this bright, vivacious warmth? I hear there are other friendly cultures, but I suspect none match Latin America's in sympathy and energy. It is a particular kind of welcome that makes you feel embraced, yet not just any kind of embrace but a family embrace that admits no barriers but rather takes you under its mothering, downy wing. I am thinking of many people now, not just Colombians, though all women. It is more a female trait. The male friendliness is different--hospitable, certainly, and helpful, but with the typical distance you find with strangers.
I just realized it's almost 2013. Damn. I'm not ready for another year.
When I was young I never thought I'd get older. Even now I haven't quite realized that I'm old--too old to still be what I am. When I see the years flip by so quickly, I lose my breath. Pondering mortality is at best a cliche, at worst melodrama. But I can't shake my preoccupation with it, with the idea of my own impermanence. In wiser moments I am happy to simply pass through, to squeeze whatever I can from the brief, sweet moments that strung together comprise a human life, and then to let go, to float on, away. But at other times I think, oh all this work, all this pain, all this learning for what? What is life for? Why all this struggle? Why not just hedonistic pleasure? One day it will all be gone, and my only impression on the earth will be what I took and used up forever.
These are heavy thoughts, too heavy for the New Year. Let me end, then, on a different note, a wish: May 2013 be an, oh, I don't know, an interesting year. Good night!
* * * * *
When I close my eyes and try to imagine myself at the side of a tranquil lake, I am surprised to find myself at the edge of Laguna de Apoyo. There I am, hacking away again at Chris's hair with the scissors. But already I know that somewhere behind me are three men with machetes, waiting to steal our backpack. They are shadows in the woods. Nevertheless, the lake and the day are as peaceful and clear as ever, and I smile as I snip away. And then it occurs to me in a slow, surging wave of gratittude that they--the men--did not take this away from me, this pure, simple pleasure in the lake. My whole body a grin of joyous surprise. I had to tell you.