China Ranch (four women in the desert)

I. Of course, everything was about you ladies.

But let me write these words, these thoughts, before the treacherous and unreliable time blows from my mind, like it does with footsteps on the sand, the imprint of the memorable weeks I’ve spent among you. There is a moment for everything, and this is the one for recording my recollections from China Ranch; and this I ought to do lest my merging into the strong stream of new experiences and adventures prevents me from ever doing what I promised, and -what is worse- thus losing the memory of my recent emotions. And emotions are (can you doubt it?) the source of inspiration and creativity.

Though, my heart is not bleeding as I thought it would. Perhaps I’ve hardened it, through travelling, more than I realize; perhaps the tide of life, in which I’m immersed, is at present too intense for letting any mental wound to appear; or… perhaps I’m bleeding deep, deep inside, and not yet aware of it.

But for sure my heart is touched. I’ve left there, in the desert, a part of my soul, same as the air leaves on the ground, on the plants, on the rocks of the land it kisses, part of its humidity. Or perhaps it’s the desert what lives now in my soul, in me. I’ve been touched by the magical mountains and the unreachable horizons, by the inmense landscapes and the beauty of their silence, by the glory on the warm colours and the joy on the flowers, by the dust and the wind and the distances, by the neverending roads and the mute plateaus; I’ve been overwhelmed by the infinite stars and the solitude, by the canyons and the golden, blessed dunes, by the stretching of space and the fading of time, by the silent night and the still nature. Now the desert belongs to me, same as I belong to it.

I loved that land beforehand, and I’ve learnt to love it even more, with a better knowledge and a wiser mind. However, all those emotions could have never arisen without the presence of the four of you. Obviously, the latent beauty I found there is intrinsic to the place, but without you it could have remained partially undisclosed to me. It was you, ladies, who unknowingly set my mind receptive. Your existence in space and time was providential.

II. Four crazy women in the high desert.

First of all were you, Scylla; the craziest one, leading the gay team, running the business in your smart and gipsy way, with your odd vision, your funny projects and your outlandish ambitious goals. You’re a strong character and a natural leader, easy to follow, attractive, magnetic. I learned to love those long breakfasts and our queer, unlimited conversations. Ours was a good, laid back understanding. You captured me in your cobweb, and I let myself be captured, and we soon developed a profitable symbiosis that then turned into a nice and friendly relationship. You know -I told you- how to get the best of people, how to make them feel good, satisfied and happy with their jobs. You know the words to be said and you don’t spare them. Flattery in your nice charming way, you passed your enthusiasm on to me.

Then Karen, looking crazier than she actually is, fooling -in that sense- everybody but herself, caring equally about all of us, despite having endured so much in her life (or maybe just because of that). Trustworthy and honest, commited and reliable, hard working, always ready to cheer us up. Absolutely authentic and true, incapable of lying, straightforward to an embarrasing degree, and -no doubt- the most balanced of all. I learned to always welcome her company and to like her simple, plain talk, which never involved deep or sophisticated things, but which got straight to my heart and was so helpful for me. Never pretend you are whom you are not, she told me. Is there any simpler sentence? Yet so true and teaching.

Of course there was crazy Daisy, so professional in every imaginable way… Pretty witty lovely Daisy, naturally coquette and mischievous (thanks to her for this word), with her adorable sparkling laughter, her bewitching stares and her tender, somehow moving, flirting behaviour. A childish mind in an adult container. Every of her movements being a work of art in itself, she puts a bright note of colour onto the brownish canvas. If it wasn’t for her, my stay in China Ranch would have been half as intense in the emotional side, and half as worth being recollected. How could I not thank her for what she gave me? And Time, heavens!, will so quickly rub out from my memory the bads, that pretty soon I’ll only remember the suggestive, delicious moments of our affaire and the armonic texture of her voice.

And in total contrast, like sun and moon, god and silver, outside and inside, stood sweet Katharine, an adult mind in a childish envelope (beautiful and perfectly shaped, by the way). Cute Katharine, crazy in her own way, obscure and enigmatic as can be, the hardest to be known and understood; distant, almost un reachable; her inmature brain trying to believe what her mature mind probably ruled out (but who knows?). Fragile and strong at the same time, silent and tender, good natured, more caring than she looked, and so concerned about profound and essential matters. Absolutely lovable.

III. Farewell

So, I couldn’t have found a better company and place, and for that I would have stayed in the Ranch forever. But there’s a time for everything; circumstances never last long, and something inside me -like an instinct- was telling me that it was time to take off; I had the feeling that I shouldn’t stay longer, lest the routine killed the beauty and I lost all the memories that I now can enjoy. The place was perfect but the timing was not. Shall it be some day? I don’t know. Often I believe that my destiny is this pilgrimage, this constant travelling that I love and loathe at the same time, my freedom and my jail. It’s a gift and a torment, a joy and a sorrow. I don’t know where the paths of life will take me, but I like what I’ve trodden, and I’ve definitely loved my stay among you.

Farewell, my crazy women. I’ve enjoyed your company, your presence, your existence. And even though I’d like to come back some day, we’ll probably never meet again; therefore, perhaps this is the only inmortality you and I may share, ladies. Farewell.

Poland

Today I’ve been to the shop round the corner.
My purchase amounted to 18,86 zl.
I handle the cashier a 20 zl banknote.
The change is 1,14 zl.
Does the cashier round it up in my favour and return to me 1,15 zl?
Of course not. The idea probably doesn’t even cross his mind. The change is just 1,14 zl.
But for small change he only has 10 cent and 5 cent coins, and just ONE 2 cent coin. He can’t make 1,14 zl.
He asks me if I have a 1 cent coin.
I haven’t.
Under these circumstances, does he reconsider the change, think of losing 1 cent, and give me 1,15 zl?
Nope. The change is just 1,14 zl. He can’t lose 1 cent. So, what does he do?
Poker-faced, he gives me 1,12 zl and pretends the thing is settled.
That’s Poland.
So, poker-faced, I tell him I want my other 2 cents.
He has to stop his work, go to another cashier and ask for the 2 cents he owes me.
I take my change and, on my way out, I throw the 4 cents to the litter bin outside the shop. Don’t want misery weighing on my pocket.
That’s Pablo.
(1 zl cent amounts to 1/4th euro cent, and it’s worth approximately 6 seconds of a cashier’s time. He took around one minute in returning me the money. Therefore, the loss for the shop is almost ten times bigger than the 1 cent they wanted to save.)