The Lonlinesss of the Long Distance Traveller
do you know youre going insane?
do you know youre going insane?
When the cracks in travel have begun to show and the view from the bus
has blurred the cause and all seems lost but the need to regain it,
and in your desperation you defiantly declare that the thrill is not
in what you see but in how you see it, and that all will be saved if
you walk to your next destination?
When the walk is charged with angry dogs and the more you shout the
harder they chase you, backpack and all, further away from your reason
and the place you had convinced yourself you ought to be? When youre
years from home and dont know how many more?
When the locals glare at you at the end of the day and wish you werent
there, sweating in white skin and a bright orange hat asking them questions
they cant understand?
When the table at the shabby restaurant wobbles and you have to lean
on it because youre beat tired and need to rest your shoulders,
and you cant even pick up the fork, and you leave the food half-finished
because the altitude has made you ill and youve wandered an hour
without finding a hosteria and all the directions you recieved were
unclear and none of the streets were properly tagged and you felt the
weight of your pack every step and nobody in the market cared about
you, and all the while you tried not to feel sorry for yourself because
youre the rich one? When you pass busted sidewalks, littered streets,
basketball rims without nets, graffiti on public walls, faded faces
of corruption on telephone poles, dusty blocks of broken cement, and
laziness everywhere? Its all a shitty mess, really, and you have
dreams, big dreams of fixing it all but you cant, and you recall
the girl of the week who told of her volunteer work in the state legislature
back home, of the corruption to which she bore witness - and another
frustrated heart is destroyed in the land of the indigenous tied down
like their pigs eating rubbhish, of angry dogs and a boy with his mother
and their bible on the garbaged trail that took you ten kilomters past
yourself. Yes, the deserted railroad led you past your destination,
onto a bus of teenagers coming home from school and now you lay in an
empty hotel longing for the girl you kissed this morning. It is the
first in ten days without her and what are you now? you
wonder. That was this morning she kissed you good-bye.
Your feelings for her are weak but theres a sadness when she says
good-bye. Theres a movement inside, like furniture that settles
on the long ride.
You feel it move. You know its going to be okay; its not going
to slip out and smash on the highway but she makes it heavier than driving
an empty truck and you feel it when you turn corners. You must slow
down and take greater care on speedbumps. You cant live life as
carelessly or as carefree as you can without emotional ties. Though
you may not want to admit it, there are still emotional ties, and still
you wonder how much you ought to further whatever it is, by inviting
her to the coast. You move slower because in your idle moments on the
ferry listening to the blind man play sing spanish songs to his guitar
whilst towing across the bay you think of the one with whom you were
intimate and you feel sad that you do not have her now, her conversation,
her eyes to you.
When do you know youre going insane? When you hear the rooster
crow out the window and remember the final episode of MASH in which
Hawkeye lost his mind on the bus in enemy territory?
When you blow your nose because your allergies have yet to disappear
and the dander of the blankets is killing you, and the dogs bark in
fury, cry out for love into the night on the equator as your body aches
and the shower pours nothing but agua frio?
When your mind is wretched? When, even with ear plugs, you cant
block out the noise of the tv of the room next to you?
When the door down the hall opens and echoes and the hollow click of
the knob assures that all is safely locked, and a man ventures into
When you wonder about tomorrow? When all you want now is a familiarity?
Is that when you know youre going insane?
© Ken Lori May 2003
Ken Lori in Ecuador
Journeys in Hacktreks
all rights reserved