Written in 2004 on Friday the 23rd of January, just before heading overseas for a year.
It’s happening in two days. In two days, I’m off. Two more sleeps and I’m on a plane, heading to South America. QANTAS are flying me to LA at 12:25pm on Sunday. On the same day and at the same time, I leave LA to head to Santiago. But what’s even stranger is if I was to leave Melbourne a few hours past midnight, I would arrive in LA the day before I’d left. It has something to do with the international dateline thingy somewhere over the Pacific.
South America is the trendy place to be for backpackers armed with a Che Guevara T-shirt thinking they’re revolutionary, and that shall be my itinerant home for the first five or so months of my travels overseas. Not having listened to enough Ricky Martin or Carmen Miranda during my formative years, the mellifluous lilts of Latin American languages I can’t really understand. Sadly the Portuguese is virtually non-existent, the Spanish rudimentary. I can speak Greek, but that doesn’t do me much good when dodging coca lords or trying to get myself laid. My much lauded olive-skinned and hairy forebears did their colonising a little too early for my country-to-country, meet-and-greet benefit. Thankfully, everyone speaks some brand of English. English: it’s the new Latin.
On the dawn of my Australia Day, I will be on a plane heading to Santiago. Following in the footsteps of the great Aussie champion of crapulence, David Boon, I think it only fitting that I break some kind of drinking record on the plane to commemorate the special day. “Be like Boony” is gonna be my mantra, 37 cans of beer my goal. Then when I land, I’m thinking of heading straight to the nearest port, hiring a boat, landing in a bay, planting an Australian flag into the shore and then proclaiming the land before me as the crown’s. The Chileans will love it. Those that don’t, I’ll slaughter.
In Brazil, they’re a civilised bunch. Over there, if a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, they get the Monday or Friday off too. Hearing of such enlightened public-holiday policy speaks volumes on the way of life there and makes me ever more certain that I will enjoy a place that’s got its priorities just about right. But it’s not only the very friendly public-holiday system they’ve got going there that makes me think I’ll spend most of my South American time in Brazil, it’s also about the capoeira.
For the past eight months, I have been training with Abada Capoeira Melbourne, and for the past eight months, capoeira and the friendly bunch of people that do it with me have pretty much taken over my life. It’s like a cult. There’s singing, there’s dancing, there’s hand clapping, there’s drum pounding, there’s a uniform and it’s done barefoot most of the time. Basically it’s a lot like being a Hare Krishna without the crazy haircuts. My particular brand of Capoeira, Abada, was founded by Mestre Camisa and I will be able to train at the school that he still runs in Rio. But what makes everything seem so preternaturally destined to be is that camisa in Portuguese means shirt or T-shirt. Those of you who know of my love for the T-shaped and shirt-like will understand how appropriate that my Capoeira master is also the master of shirts. It’s a simple enough coincidence, but enough of one to make me think we will get along smashingly.
But everything seems to be in order, everything seems to be at the ready. All I have to do is wait, and in two days, I’m gonna be in two places at the same time.