Posts Tagged ‘homesickness’

47. Missing Sports

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Happy I get to watch this guy play right now.

Happy I get to watch this guy play right now.

Whenever I’m traveling, I tell myself it’s good to be disconnected from home. And it many ways, it is. More often than not, backpackers are excited to escape from home — school, a former job, a breakup, whatever — so being overseas (in some cases where you can’t even speak the local language) is refreshing. (See 44. Finishing school/Quitting your job.) Not for sports, though.

Missing sports makes me homesick.

I realize my opinion has been colored by the following:

  • I’m North American and apart from basketball, the professional sports I like to follow are not widely played overseas.
  • I’m not a hard-core soccer fan and don’t pretend to be (see 41. Soccer)
  • I’m not a holier-than-thou hippie who strums his guitar pretending he doesn’t care about sports, to pick up girls (see 18. Guitar)
  • I’m back home, living in a city whose team is on a Stanley Cup run.
  • I went and saw the Heat-Blazers game in January, which the Heat (currently the Vegas favorites to win the NBA title) won in OT. Beenou.
  • The NBA Playoffs are fantastic this year.
  • I didn’t have to wake up at 3 a.m. local time to watch the Super Bowl in Spanish this year. And I wasn’t in Vietnam drinking by myself when the Riders were in the Grey Cup (which I wasn’t able to watch anywhere) either this year.
  • I watched basically all the March Madness games and went to Vegas to watch the Final Four, in what was one of the best tournaments of all time. Or did it just seem that way because I was actually home to watch the whole thing? I dunno. Beenou.
  • I just slept in, made breakfast and watched a wicked E:60 piece on Carl Crawford. Found out he’s a stud all-around athlete from Fifth Ward Houston. I wouldn’t be able to watch that in Paris. I mean, I’d be in Paris… Yeah, I wouldn’t have seen it, nor would the MLB standings mean anything to me there.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, it’s good to be home and watch sports. Friends, family and 1st-world infrastructure are all right too, I guess.

All of that said, I can’t wait to go on another trip.

34. ‘Departures’

Friday, March 5th, 2010

It’s a fantastic show, made by my fellow Canadian backpackers, but I hate it.

The award-winning reality show drives me up the wall with jealousy. Having done the buddy travel thing so many times (beenou), watching Departures on OLN Canada continually brings back me to the same question: WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS?

Well, I don’t have a cinematic genius of a third friend willing to accompany buddy and me on trips to obscure and exciting destinations. Wait a second. I do have such a third friend. What the hell am I doing working a nine to five?!

See what I mean? The show drives me crazy.

departures21

I’d been able to avoid the show as much as possible until two days ago, when I came across a Lindsay Post article  (by Brian Gorman of ZAP2IT): ‘Departures’ a dream come true for three adventurers. Damn you, Gorman, for reminding me of missed travel, TV stardom and wealth opportunities!

I feel like one of the pimps on Dave Chappelle’s sketch “The Player Haters’ Ball,” where each character takes his turn ripping into the other, as well as into celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell and The Osbournes. The pimps pull no punches, regardless of their victims’ good intentions — it’s all for the sake of hating (see 27. One-uppers). Is the hatred driven by jealously? Probably. But my job, as with theirs, is to hate and hate well.

The reality show is successful — it has “a cult following and eight Gemini nominations under its belt, including a best photography win for (cameraman Andre) Dupuis,” Gorman writes — because it’s genuine. The two travelers, Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach, are longtime buddies from Brantford, Ontario (indeed, the hometown of another affable Canadian hero, Wayne Gretzky). Their conversations, tribulations, discoveries and overall enthusiasm are candid, but more importantly, they’re believable.

I understand that saying a reality show is good because it’s genuine may be stating the obvious, but after watching the shit-eater supreme Jake Pavelka compete on The Bachelorette last year for the affections of Canadian Jillian Harris (That’s the third Canadian reference this entry. Call it post-Olympic patriotism, people. I kinda hate the Olympics too, by the way), only to be granted extended C-list fame with his own show entitled The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love (Note: Pavelka is a commercial pilot), let’s just say my faith in reality TV, not to mention in the intelligence of the general public, has taken a nose dive.

I digress. From one honest episode to the next, the Departures duo struggles with common backpacker issues, including money transfer hassles, long-distance relationships and break-ups, scheduling stress and missed flights, travel companion tension, foreign hospitals, constant hangovers and homesickness before the otherworldly backdrops of Antarctica, Ascension Island (in the South Atlantic; I know, I didn’t know it existed either), Libya, Mongolia, the Cook Islands and Iceland. Not your typical backpacking haunts. To call what they do a dream job is like saying Kevin Durant is proving to be an alright NBA player.

“The biggest quest for us is to find real authentic places that, when you walk up to people, they look at you like you’re from another world,” said Lukach, in the article. “We have found those places, but it takes so much to get to those spots. We don’t get off a plane and drive for an hour. We get off a plane and trek in the jungle for three or four days.” BEENOU.

So, to Andre, Scott and Justin, I say: Kudos and keep up the good work, fellas. Keep living the dream. And, I hate you all.

33. The Need to Masturbate

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

“Pssst.” No response.

“Pssst. Are you sleeping?” Still no response from the bunk across the room. He’s asleep. It’s go time.

While the need to flush the lovepipes during a long trip may be more urgent to men than to women, I’m sure the ladies must pleasure themselves from time to time in shared-room settings. Whether or not they can be as stealthy doing it, I have no idea. I suppose that means yes, they have been.

Many a real man has admitted to jacking off in the hostel shower (see 20. Getting “wubes”). Makes sense. If you’re traveling with other people, the shower is one of the few moments of “alone time” you get in the day. Although I enjoy that method (particularly if it involves conditioner), I’m simply more of a lie-down masturbator.

And I don’t need to explain how pleasuring yourself is, ironically, more of a selfless act than a selfish one. For me, it’s simply because I am an extremely dangerous person if I try to wait out a wet dream (haven’t had one since 1997). I’m looking out for the safety of others. As Chris Elliott’s character, Woogie, exclaimed in There’s Something About Mary, not “flogging the dolphin” before a big date is like “going out with a loaded gun!”

spacey

Discreet self-disarmament, however, can be tricky during group travel. While the scene in American Beauty, where Kevin Spacey spanks his monkey laying beside his sleeping wife, is not farfetched, I wouldn’t recommend it. (Note: Spacey jerks off in the shower too, at the beginning of the film.) And as anybody who’s been in a hostel dorm room with two people fucking in it already knows, some people get drunk and make mincemeat of discretion anyway.

But I continue to hide it and bust my nuts like a ninja when the time is right. I’m a classy guy. What can I say?

It has to be done. The following are reasons why I am a regular chicken choker, especially while traveling:

  • No game. I have no game, so I’m forced to attend to my own needs more than the Don Juan backpacker-types, musicians (esp. acoustic guitarists) or Aussie guys for that matter. I’m OK with that.
  • Plenty of material. Although no hot chicks backpack, you definitely encounter a lot of hot chicks while backpacking (local girls, hot girls staying in hotels, hot girls traveling with their douche boyfriends, etc.) so your mental photo album is bursting at the seams daily. There’s deece everywhere. No game + full spank bank = an overwhelming need to masturbate.
  • Stopped in the red zone. It was a big night. You tried scraping out some semblance of game. You may have been vying to score. You may even have gotten DFMOs. Everything looked good, but she didn’t want to try doing it in the hostel broom closet, her girlfriend dragged her home, etc. Damned if you should go to bed with blue balls!
  • Homesickness/Loneliness. Traveling alone sucks.
  • Insomnia. Traveling alone and not being able to sleep sucks even worse. Plus, skeet-skeeting makes me sleepy.
  • Low self-esteem. Sigh.

And there you have it. Masturbation should be an integral part of your physical and mental health regimen. Absolutely nothing keeps a single, male backpacker as confident, well rested and alert as some good ‘ol hands-on therapy. But careful with the bar soap rub-out in the shower. That shit stings like a motherfucker.

5. Available Multinationals

Monday, May 18th, 2009

mcdonalds-russia“I just need to get away from it all” is standard rationale for departing on a long backpacking adventure. You want to switch it up. You envision exploring new lands, meeting fascinating people from all over, interacting with locals, experiencing foreign culture and at once absorbing the jarring visceral stimuli that surround you.

While all of those objectives may eventually be met, a few common hiccups occur. A few examples:

  • Coca-Cola: So charming in that timeless glass bottle.
  • McDonalds: Sushi in Japan, deep-fried camembert in France, who says this stuff isn’t local?
  • Marlboro: Even if you don’t smoke, you will. “It’s so cheap here!”
  • 7-Eleven: Everything you need. Condom labels you can read. Gatorade for that hangover. Mmm, Pringles. Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestle, Pfizer - only the essentials.
  • KFC: Regardless of religion, race or creed, people like fried chicken. Not just black people. All people.
  • Starbucks: Combine elements of otherwise conflicting yuppie and backpacker culture in a modern and urban setting! Also available in fair trade blends for the most delicate of consciences.

Ironically, most backpackers stay close to the herd. The beaten path is by no coincidence dotted with the above brands and companies. The convenient access to all these familiar flavors and comforts makes it nearly impossible for backpackers to resist temptation and indulge in them.

Doing so, however, runs contrary to the idealistic tenets the prototypical backpacker ascribes to, such as respect for the environment, leftist ideals, support for local economies and equitable labor practices. Sanctimonious, tree-hugging and bleeding heart principles the likes of Greenpeace, Habitat for Humanity and Adbusters want you to believe in.

marlboro-thailand

That's NOT Manny Pacquiao.

Thus, most members of the backpacking community are conflicted. It’s understandable. You didn’t drop two grand on a plane ticket to eat the same noxious crap you can buy at a strip mall in your hometown.

But you get homesick. You tire of local food or rolling the dice on substandard hygenic conditions. You just want something familiar for a change. No surprises. Besides, how could something so corporate and evil taste so good?

So you swallow your pride with a super-sized Coke to wash it down. You resign to the notion that globalization is an inevitability in our forever capitalist, commoditized world. One little purchase can’t hurt…

Globalization is a bitch ain’t it? It’s like the atomic bomb - somebody else invented it. Not your problem. Enjoy your Bic Mac. We’re no holier than thou. We all savored ours.