Can you guess the protagonist?
“Yes, please, yes… yes…AT LAST!
Come on, hurry up, hurry up! Yes, yes, ‘thank you, have a nice trip’ – go through the formalities, ‘have a nice day’, bla, bla, bla. It’s always the same. Just get me out of here.”
Out into the fresh air, the big wide world, the life that I could only dream about, the life that I could hear and smell and ever so slightly glimpse for the last eight months that I have spent inside my own private prison.
Now I’m free.
Out onto the street, so that’s what that looks like, oh, and what is that?, gee, that was fast – my gosh he’s ugly. And that, aaah, it’s a traffic light – I’d wondered what that beeping noise was. Anyway, it doesn’t matter now, I’ve got a whole world to explore.
Where to now?
Well, first some lunch. Maybe a street stall, some dumplings, noodles or a bbq, or maybe it’s too hot for a bbq.
I now like street stalls, I’ve been to many since earning my freedom, so vibrant, colourful, frantic and exciting. Full of people scurrying around, bargaining, smiling, laughing, trying to have conversations over the constant noise of business, or busyness. For me markets resonate with convivial activity and simplicity. I don’t like being trodden on though, and I always seem to end up dirty, hot and sticky.
I’ve been to the other extreme as well. Nice, sophisticated restaurants with blinding white linen and multiple sets of cutlery. Places you wouldn’t normally expect to find me. That said, no one seems bothered by my presence, maybe it’s because I look so good.
What are we going to do after lunch, how should I spend my new found freedom?
Maybe find a hotel. Not a hostel, a nice hotel. I’ve been to too many hostels, it’s a natural place for me, and others like me, to end up.
I’ve stayed in some nice hostels, but also some shockers. Cold, cramped, smelly and full of smelly backpackers. And to think, one of them even had the nerve to tell me that I was smelly.
“Well what do you expect? I just spent the last three days climbing up and down mountains.”
They didn’t all insult me though. Some people (yes, including young women) were very impressed and told me that I looked nice. Some of them even wanted to hold me, to touch me and stroke me and (good heavens!) lift up my tongue and look inside.
Some people have told me that I look strong. Others, that I look rugged yet elegant and all agree that I’m versatile.
I suppose I am versatile. I have spent a lot of time on the sides of mountains or crossing rivers. I remember one trip I did in Taiwan, hiking through a gorge and crossing rivers during their rainy season. The scenery was spectacular but it was so hard crossing the fast flowing rivers, and probably a little bit dangerous as well. I remember being submerged in fast, murky water for long periods of time, sometimes for so long that I wondered if I would ever make it out.
There was another trip in Taiwan during which I spent all day in and out of the water walking and climbing up a river – yes up, not down. The locals called it “River Tracing”, I just called it illogical. Rivers flow down to the ocean, or a lake, but we were trying to go up the river. Despite the humidity and muggy heat in the air, after one full day the water turned decidedly chilly and the cold had seeped through to my core.
But I was built tough. I remember the comments from the wise old men who shaped me, who had so much influence over my early development.
“We must make them tough” they said about my peers and I, in their thick Italian accents.
“We need to treat them harder than they will ever be treated for the rest of their lives” they explained, as they pounded me, stretched me, pulled me in all different directions. At one point, they even stuck sharp objects into my soft, fleshy parts.
“We have to make them strong, or nobody will want them” one would say, to which another would reply
“Yes, but also Bello, Bello, ‘beautiful, beautiful’.
Then they sent me away, and so many others like me, in the hope that, one day, somebody would want me.