Last night, I spent several hours with a good friend that I hadn’t seen in almost 4 years. Those four years for him were so different from mine that I am still digesting it all. Basically, due to a generous layoff, some inheritance and so forth, he doesn’t need to work anymore. So, he took about 5 or 6 years to travel around the world and live and do all kinds of crazy – and sometimes dangerous – things. Some of the things I’d never do, others that I dream of doing. I got to thinking that it was almost like meeting a space alien. In many ways, our lives couldn’t have diverged more. In other ways, we are still as connected as we were before this period. It is a bit strange.
Some of the things that impressed me from his adventures: solo horseback riding in Mongolia in -40 degrees C, swimming with whale sharks in Thailand, climbing to the base camp at Annapurna, running half-drunk through a favela in the middle of the night with a big-time drug dealer in Rio, spending the month of Ganesha festival in India, learning how to be a shaman on the Uruguayan/Brazilian border, crossing the Brazilian/French Guyana border after 22h of mud tracks in a dirty bus…and other less savory experiences with drugs and so forth in La Paz and Rio. Crazy stuff.
He had actually been back here in Paris for about 18 months during which time he was involved in squatting unused millionaire mansions, chateaux and other unused buildings in Paris. On the surface, it is billed as a movement for helping homeless people find shelter. Under the surface it is : 1/ and excuse for not paying rent, water or electricity in some of Paris’ best unused real estate 2/ an excuse for rich momma’s boys to pretend to do some “charity work” while prepping for a political career 3/ an excuse for relentless fucking and partying with almost total freedom. I briefly encountered this scene back years ago here but found it was WAY too chaotic for me. Funny, because almost no one that knows me calls me conservative, but compared to this “other” lifestyle I am like a monk.
Just before heading off to bed (and yes I did cheat and publish this post blank before midnight to get one in under the wire. I have seen heroin only once (at a party of my cousin’s in California when I was all of 17) and I have never seen coke, X, Crystal Meth or anything else. And yet I have frequented lots of folks that were all over some or all of these. I even know personally some that have come back from H addiction. The friend in question was telling me that the equivalent in coke in Paris of 200€ cost only 2€ in La Paz. Incredible. No wonder the drug use in South America is so prevalent – a very scary thought indeed. Also, the profits are astounding. And yet, I am so scared shitless of all that stuff. Its like I have been so close to that particular edge and yet never really peaked over it. Well, I find the sensation pretty wacky personally. Like staring into the sun perhaps.