Aug. 11th, 2008

overheard

Aug. 11th, 2008 07:44 pm
devi: (thegap)
Last night in the Hobo Hideout I managed to fall asleep though there was a room party going on nearby with chatter and terrible sub-sub-ambient, sub-Chillout-Moods music. What did wake me up was the man outside my door bellowing "Guys, turn it off and go to bed. I have a fuckin´ busy day tomorrow."

It´s the real backpacker hostel deal. Poky with shared bathrooms and dog-eared posters for local activities. But not what I hoped for, lots of other travellers hanging out in the common room. I was on my own in Lima and Pucallpa, intimidated by the chaos of the places and the sense of danger into posher hotels where you don´t meet people, and now that I´ve found my feet I want to talk to someone who´s having the same experiences as me. But very few seem to be on the move at the moment. I´m spending a lot of time at the Yellow Rose, the travellers´ hangout down the street from my hostel, slouching in their comfy chairs and drinking beer in the heat of the day, but it´s hard to break into people´s twos and threes and randomly say hi.

I was there earlier, having breakfast and watching a gecko clambering around on the wall, when I saw a mini-play unfold. Two older white guys were sitting near me. One with a white buzz-cut and jungle shorts and a petulant, slightly squeaky voice; the other big and paunchy with jowls and mournful John Kerry eyebrows. The squeaky one really didn´t like Bill Grimes, who is mentioned in the guidebook as someone who runs good jungle cruises. He kept saying "in this business..." so I figured he was a rival. He monologued for easily 20 minutes about all the things Bill does wrong on his boats and at his wildlife lodge. What happens if you´re showing someone the tame anaconda, it gets skittish and you´re sued for negligence? What happens if one of the monkeys bites someone and they have to get a rabies shot? What happens if your group meet a jaguar and you haven´t got a pistol? With the shared bathroom on the boat, what if someone needs to take a screamin´ shit? The word 'irresponsible' featured a lot. He got squeakier and squeakier as he went on and on. I wondered what Bill had done to him, what petty infighting went on in the clique of macho jungle men, and reflected that he wasn´t putting me off doing one of the tours at all, considering the amount of bias wafting off his words. The other guy fidgeted and sighed, repeatedly let his eyes glaze over and then caught himself, and now and then said something equivocal which suggested he thought Squeaky was overstating matters. Quite suddenly Squeaky stood up to go. "You have a good day," said the other guy. "I will," Squeaky said emphatically. I wondered. He appeared to be the sort of person who liked to exist in a state of outrage, so it seemed unlikely.

After various men engaging me in conversation in netcafes, I have discovered that the moment when a conversation becomes creepy is when they ask where your hotel is. Saying "So you don´t want friends?" when you refuse to tell them, then saying they want to come to your hotel because their cousin works for the company you´re booked on a tour with and they want you to deliver a special letter, does not make it better and is a good time to go and do something else. This is irritating when you´re in the middle of a post.

But unlike Squeaky I do not live in a state of irritation. I love it here. And though I thought it was just a pre-storm thing, it turns out the birds flock at dusk every day, presumably to catch insects. Which is cool.

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