Discover more from Vic Koopmans
Tranquility, I’ve found it. The trees high, the air fresh, the mouths shut - marvellous. Loud street vendors trying to sell me lollipops and cocaine have been replaced by an affable, old man serving me a café con queso. Dark, narrow alleys have made way for bright fields of green.
The big city was a nice introduction to this new reality, but after two stabbings, three robberies and one street fight it was time to move on - here I was… trying to blend in.
After a few days my Spanish has already improved immensely and I’m feeling proper confident in my ability to hold a conversation. I’m now able to order two and a half empanada.
“¿Hola señor, cómo estás?”
“Dos empanadas y media, por favor.”
I moved to a town a few hours to the west of the big city. A renowned national park that is near this town is the reason why I headed out to this part of the country.
The hostel where I stay lays just outside of the town center. I check in and check out the surrounding area. In front of the hostel is a makeshift gym: one pull up bar, one sort of ‘dip machine’ and a pile of rocks. Their creator is exercising. I walk up to him. He is about half my height and twice my size. I motion that I want to join him and he nods approvingly.
“Dos empanadas y media, por favor.”
We’re basically best friends by now.
I work out, walkabout the sleepy town and find my mattress. The following day will be challenging my health, so I knock myself out with sleeping pills.
The alarm on my phone rings. Nature is calling and I decide to answer for a change.
Together with a small group of backpackers I hop in the back of a jeep that will drive us to our destination. I’m not too fond of being with a bunch of tourists, but financial benefit prevailed.
The adventurous, torturous ride over a bumpy, unpaved road begins and the shaking and vibrating commences. After half an hour the washing machine on wheels spews me out at the entrance of the national park. I smell like pain, but I let it be upon seeing the scenery - plus, there are pills for pain, and I just so happen to always have those in my pocket.
A world of green invites us to come in and explore. We kindly accept the invitation and begin our hike over the muddy trail that leads into a forest.
Some time passes by whilst walking. The sound of rippling water, branches snapping and birds chirping somewhere in the distance appeals to me, but the voices of my company, that constantly tries to strike up a conversation, prevent me from enjoying the moment. I speed up my stride to remove myself from their presence.
With every step I take I distance myself more and more from their numerous revelations and philosophical insights. Once the hodgepodge of international voices subsides, my annoyance morphs into the standard numbness. Feeling nothing feels okay for now.
Branches and leaves swish in my face and the boots I wear make a squishy sound each time I place my feet in the mud. Whilst I place one foot in front of the other I can’t seem to end my internal dialogue. I walk on whilst depressing thoughts run through my mind and I wonder how deadly thoughts manage to be so vital - a confusing paradox in itself.
Hours pass and I reach the viewpoint where I reap the reward of my hard work. Here the forest turns into a stunning landscape. I relax and see world’s tallest palm trees, numerous green hills and a layer of mist that’s on par with my foggy mind. The view and the silence compensate my deteriorating health for a moment.
I grab on to a nearby fence, spit out my breakfast, wait until the shaking and dizziness stops and look up again. Utter silence. All sounds seize to exist, but even more so: my thoughts fall apart. Numbness is accompanied by goosebumps. It’s not happiness yet, but I’ll take it. Raindrops start falling and with my eyes wide open I let it all soak in.
There are no conversations without content, there is no music to drown out that beautiful silence. I temporarily catch myself enjoying where I am and what I’m doing. It’s merely flirting, but for a second the nature makes me want to cheat on my depression.
Birds cautiously start singing a song, but a slight drizzle quiets them. I stick up my thumb thanking them for their effort, but request them to give it some time. It’ll take me more than a few days to regain my former state of mind.
I sigh and convince myself that today wasn’t that bad of a day. After waiting for a bit I walk back to the parking lot and jump back into the jeep - ready for a thorough rinse.
Half dead due to a morning of walking and having been mutilated by the washing machine on wheels twice, I collapse on my bed and let the pain take over me. I lay my head on my pillow and slowly start losing consciousness. I count the sheep passing by and doze off, whilst I think of my next destination.
In the distance a sound is heard. The Narcos theme song starts playing.
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