Tag Archives: Travel

Gentleman’s Club

(Post from Jan 28, 2015 – that i just found in my drafts. Somehow escaped my sight, so here it is)

Location: Tarapoto, Amazon Basin, Northern Peru.

Life after the jungle has been surprising. The rules are as follows. No spices, no citric, no fats, no coffee, no carbs, no meat, no tomatoes, no onions, no drugs, no sex, no weed. For at least 30 days.

When i got out of the retreat, i came straight to Colores, the same place i had spent 10 days the last time i was in Tarapoto. This time around, there were 3 men when i checked back in (with Juan Carlos). So it’s now officially a gentleman’s club. That’s an awesome strategy to keep all horny thoughts away, for a straight guy at least. We occupy hammocks in boxers all day and have farting contests. The one that makes everybody run for fresh air wins. Fernando is the current unbeaten champion. Dora the dog comes in a close second, but she doesn’t win any prizes cos she’s female. At other times, we play poker. I suck at it though.

We watch movies, from my collection of 10 flicks that i carry everywhere, on J-C’s big screen. I’ve even downloaded spanish subtitles so they can all understand, and i can learn spanish too. Sometimes J-C takes the tv into his room to skype. I bet skype sex is better on a 50 inch screen. But i sure hope he’s not cheating on the diet. He’s broken up and patched up with his girl 4 times in the last three weeks.

He, and every other fucker here has a bad habit of putting used matchsticks back in the matchbox, and if i berate them they just laugh and tell me to fuck off. ‘Hahahahah fuck off you indian guy’. So i spend my time reading Palahniuk, watching TV shows (just finished Homeland S04), my fave movies on repeat with Spanish subtitles, listening to amazonian music, playing the guitar, playing with Dora, and removing used matchsticks from matchboxes. Not the most exciting life i’ve led, but definitely the most peaceful and contented. Sex, drugs & rock n roll can take a vacation.

Last week, on 22nd Jan, we opened an Indian veg resto ‘Bambu’ as part of Colores. The place was mostly done up by Miro, the one-man-army from Halifax, Canada who came here to start a new-earth project in the jungle. For cycling down the Nevada desert naked in the early 90s, he deserves his own post on this blog. Our chef is Margie, who lives 10 blocks away. She spent 12 years in India, Poona to be specific, and she makes amazing chole-bhatura. My job was helping Fernando and Gabriel (from the Canary Islands) to paint the logos and signs outside, and playing bollywood music on opening night. Dished out my favourite tunes growing up, from Amitabh Bachchan movies to Aamir Khan flicks, to R D Burman and Kishor and even some Rahman thrown in for eclectic feels and all that. Bollywood night in an Indian veg restaurant in Peru. How we never cease to surprise ourselves…

The next day we were in the papers. There’s a pic of me hiding behind the laptop screen. I’m going to make a youtube playlist for Margie to play every night. Maybe i’ll share it with you.

This week i’m in San Roque de Cumbaza, where the town is gearing up for the carnaval, the biggest festival all over south america. Every nook and corner is going to be a massive party. And i’m headlining act on Sunday night. AND, i’m going to be playing sober. But there’s no other way than to nail it inside out. I’m living at this gorgeous place over the hills called San Roque Centro de Artes, where artists from all over the world come down to do a residency, teach kids, art instalments, etc. It’s run by Daniel, who was with me in Cumbaza for the ceremonies, and his wife. Daniel has literally shown me the light a couple of times in the last month, especially since i’m blind at night . There’s a gorgeous cat here, that Daniel brought with him from Cumbaza, and Arco, the white lab. I’ll be here till Monday. Then another 10 days at Colores, and back on the road post that. Can’t wait to climb some snow-capped mountains, or hit up an oasis, or just go surfing again.


Gracias

I’m finally home. And while I sit and figure out what to do with life next, i thought i’d first send across my love and gratitude to the people who’ve come my way during the last one year. People who made me feel at home at every step of the way. Sisters and Brothers across South America, i love you and i can’t thank you enough for the food, the homes, the music, the love, the warmth, the humility, the magical ceremonies, the new tattoos… Whenever you come to my country, you will always have a home, a tour guide, and a funky new chef.

So starting with Rio de Janeiro, Ilha Grande, Paraty, Sao Paolo in Brazil, to Santa Cruz & La Paz in Bolivia, to Puno, The Sacred Valley, Cuzco, Ica, San Jose, Lima, Huaraz, Mancora, Tarapoto, San Antonio, Piura, Arequipa, Iquitos and San Roque in Peru, to Monta in Ecuador, and finally Medellin and Bogota in Colombia, I’d like to thank every soul i met and spent time with.

I’d take names but that would be way too long and unfair on the people whose names have slipped my mind at this particular moment. You already know about my memory blanks.

This is what my bro Rajat made to commemorate this entire chapter of my life. There’ll probably be some stickers out soon.

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#johnnybinsouthamerica   

Gracias South America. Gracias para todo.

If you’ve liked my posts, show me love with hugs and/or donations over at johnnybizzle.bandcamp.com; also pick up free tunes while you’re there.


El Sauce

I’ve met some amazing souls through this trip. This one’s about a couple with hearts of gold and smiles to match. Over a month ago, Leo and Erika came to Tarapoto. They had spent a few days in town when they got invited to Sauce (sau-say) by some nice folk. They asked me to join them. I really love these two and i know them since December. But that’s still a much longer story for another day, my Mancora days. This one’s about Sauce and Laguna Azul. Should’ve been posted earlier but i was going through some shit around the time and was in no mood for the interwebs.

The best rides are the unplanned ones, yeah? So i quickly packed my bag with minimals, and headed out of my hostel with them. Leo said we were hitch-hiking, so we walked to the outside of Tarapoto town, where a pick up truck driver said we could sit on the rice sacks in the back, for 3 peruvian soles each.

An hour later we were at a small river crossing, one of the inlets of the Amazon river, and got across to the hills on the other side. From there it was a 4 hour trek uphill to Sauce, but Leo the expert got us another pick up truck to hop into, this time for free. Sauce was smaller than i expected. Barely 900-1000 people town. We grabbed a boat and headed to the isolated corner of the blue lagoon, which had one restaurant, some touristy shops, and the home of a very peculiar family, who rented the space out. By 5 pm, the restaurant and stores shut, and almost all the inhabitants, except for the family, were off on a boat to the town-side of this lagoon. We had the whole corner to ourselves, with 14 hammocks to choose from, a wooden deck to jump off into the lagoon from, a baby cheetah, and an anaconda, among a bunch of other animals to play with. Since the resto shut down before sunset, we asked the family if they were ok to cook for us, which they did. Other times we grabbed sapote fruit from the trees lining the area, and sapotes are just amazing. In the afternoon we got grilled tilapia fish from the restaurant. Those were orgasmotron.

We spent the night in hammocks. The days in the water. And smoked a lot of weed. Cut off from civilization, electricity, and all forms of connectivity for days. When you get time like that to yourself, it’s amazing how much one can spend inside one’s head, fixing and fixing and fixing a lot of buried problems. Bringing them out and fixing them good.

Here are some of the images from that serene little getaway in the heart of the amazon.

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I want to get a pick up truck real bad, and a chauffeur so i can ride in the back.

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And to the isolated corner of Laguna Azul, or The Blue Lagoon, we go.

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Erika can make grown men blush, take these twins for example. Guy on the right couldn’t stop hammering his fists together while his brother was talking to her.

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He just couldn’t stop.

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Their mom cracked up at how soft they’d gone in their knees.

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Or how they kept fidgeting with their noses, almost in sync.

Later their mom told me she worked for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Lima. And this was around the same time Mother Teresa was in the news thanks to some illiterate BJP half-brain back home, so i was a little dumbfounded at the mention.

But back to Erika and the blushers.

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A boatman once saw a 20 meter long anaconda in this very lake. He didn’t go back to work for almost three weeks.

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The first boat of tourists from the civilized end started at 9 am.

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The man of the house. Took a lot of convincing to allow me to take his picture. The wife totally refused.

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The UHMAZING sapote tree.

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Leo and Erika are currently riding a bike down the Argentine coast. One day I’ll take them around India.

If you’ve liked my posts, show me love with hugs and/or donations over at johnnybizzle.bandcamp.com; also pick up free tunes while you’re there.


Breaking Real Bad.

You’re a swashbuckling entrepreneur in LA, with multiple projects in Hollywood. You have a great family, a fabulous fiance who you’re getting married to in 3 months, best buddy for housemate, and an awesome bunch of friends. You’re the king. Of course with such a life comes a certain lifestyle. You’re no stranger to the parties, the clubs, the party drugs, and such. Being an entrepreneur, you have a business idea. Get some of these harmless party drugs made at home, you make sure it’s purer, and in the run make a killing for yourself. So you call for 100 grams of a certain component from China, which helps you cook. You’re thinking, it’s possible, from 25 mill a year, you could be doubling profits next year.

You could buy a new mclaren, a house overlooking hollywood hills, hang with leo dicaprio more often.

Except one sunny day a week after mailing your new business partners in China for stock, you’re trekking uphill, when your housemate calls. And you sit down, and you don’t say a word for what seems like eternity. Two and a half minutes down, you’re sweating more from the call, than from the trek.

The black suits have broken into your house and held your best buddy against the wall with the barrel of a gun to the side of his head. A dozen black suits strip your apartment from head to toe. Your laptops, ipads, hard drives, pen drives, and every other device of communication has been gathered, in a matter of a hundred and twenty seconds, and they disappear like it never happened. Except the house looks like there was a forty eight hour rave in there.

Shitstorm.

You can’t go back home. You can’t talk to family. You can’t talk to your fiance. If they hunt you down, it’s 15 years of sharing a shower with 100 hardcore inmates. They’re spying on everyone you know. Even this call is being traced. You destroy the phone right there. You can never talk your mother again, or your girl, or your best friends. You can’t even say bye to anybody. Hell, you can’t even tell the girl the wedding’s got to be called off. You have to leave the land immediately, as quietly as possible. Must get out of the borders. You run. But where do you run…

New name, new town, new job, new friends, new clothes, new papers, new passport.

Imagine a forced reincarnation in the same life. Imagine sharing a beer with this guy.


Day 13: M V Yavari, Puno.

On the trail from Peru to bordering Bolivia, I spent a night on Lake Titicaca. Not next to it, not by it, but on it. M V Yavari was built in 1862. It took a long while considering parts of the ship was carried 350 km from the Pacific to Titicaca by mules.

Cuzco to Puno is about 400 km. You can either book a train ride, that costs upwards of $200 or you could book a bus ticket for 40 soles. The train ride is pretty exotic, well decorated carriages making you feel like you’re in 18th century england or something. But i went for the bus ride. Was easy on the soul. You can get into a real fancy bus for cheap. There were only 3 people in that bus too. So i realized Puno was going to be a quiet experience.

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I reached Puno about 3 pm, and realized instantly this town might be colder at night than Cuzco. Stopped by at the town square to grab some lunch, which as usual was pork, rice, corn and black eyed peas, that i was sick of by now. So i spent 45 mins slowly munching on the pork while watching Spain vs Belgium on tv, left everything else on the plate, and then decided to grab a pizza from a neighboring cafe. Pizzas in south america are the greatest. I believe it’s got something to do with that Andean cheese. My word i’m salivating now.

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(mandatory selfie)

By 5 pm i caught a cab at the town square, and was off to the Yavari, which was about a 15 min drive away.

I hate those wooden planks that keep rocking when you walk across water or over huge gorges. They just feel very unstable, even if they’ve been working for decades. So imagine one this long.

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The Yavari is a spectacle. It’s not too big a ship, you can get a full tour in under 30 minutes. But it was meant to be a war ship. Unfortunately the guns never crossed the 350 km trek on mules. South American pickpockets are legendary. The dining room is a cosy section with books from previous centuries, LIFE magazines from 1940s-50s, swords, really old furniture, and a whole lotta wood. Oh it also had a TV for you to watch world cup games. But it reminded me of TV in my grandparents’ neighbor’s house in the early 80s. Crap.

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I was overwhelmed i was getting the captain’s cabin. They didn’t tell me if i was any fatter, i would not have fit in it. They also did not tell me the weather was going to touch -5 at night. I love the cold, but that was pushing it. For the first time in my life i slept with a hot water bottle that night. Additional to the 2 blankets. 2! And every piece of clothing on.

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Moon rise from the Yavari was quite a sight. I thought there was a party at Uros islands, and was wondering how to get there, when the light kept getting brighter, and finally rose to show the full form. SPLIFF! I said to myself. Dinner was a quick run to the town square again with the lady on the ship that cooked breakfast for visitors. I’m bad with names. I wanted to eat cuy again. That’s guine pig. Feels and tastes all exotic. By which i mean, maybe the taste grows on you. I wasn’t too amused, and the animal’s really cute too. But there’s barely any meat on it. I’m done with this cuy.

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Got back to the ship and stared out at the clear skies and the hill side town for as long as the cold would allow me, and then i hit the captain’s cabin for some much needed rest.

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Tomorrow was going to be another long ride into Bolivia. But i had to stare at these skies some… shooting star!

You can read more about the Yavari here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yavari_(ship)