C5 Says, Weird Shit Happens To Me – Survival Advice from South America- Part 9

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With your host Category5 and special guests The Three Fates.

(A special welcome to the few Permies that have been trickling in. For those not familiar with them, Permies or Permaculturalists are one of the OTHER types of preppers. They are sort of “survivalists by other means” and they have made a lot of inroads into the prepper movement over the last few years. I have also done some writing over at permies.com and am generally received well. They are a bit stifling though, for being so “nice” and “non-confromtational” which has its pros and cons. Many preppers find themselves there eventually when they are finally ready to get serious about food production without industrial aids like tractors, cemical fertilizers and pesticides. It’s prepping 2.0 for those ready to move out of survivalist kindergarten. For those ready to stop playing Army Man, Cowboys and Indians or Cops and Robbers, as fun as those things may be… when you are a child)
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(This is for entertainment only. There isn’t really any survival advice in this post… unless something random comes to mind while writing this. Once again, this is a Long One with a few days of reading)

“Weird Shit Happens to Me”.
There is no other good way to put it. We just had one of these events happen… and this time Mrs.C5 got to watch it happen, first hand instead of just hearing about it.

The evening ended with me in possession of the dog tags of a South American ex-Special Forces soldier. I tried to give them back but he was adamant about giving them to me because “I was the Man…”. He was a rather large individual which legs where his arms should be… so I didn’t want to get into a fight about it. I was in the flow of the universe. Resistance was futile.

And now I have the dog tags to prove it.

I don’t have many knick knacks compared to most people. I don’t collect souvenirs but this one will probably go next to a spent tear gas canister from another day I was in the cosmic flow. I didn’t want a t-shirt that said “I got tear gasses and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”. It goes with the collection of skulls from “the 13th warrior” movie and a Cold Steel Katana that I used to hold off a pack of pissed off wolves… and a tattered Peruvian poncho I keep on my motorcycle that came from another “weird shit happens to me” fellow I met along the path. Hippy Pete was this diminutive sized dreadlocked Deadhead and was the single bravest individual I had ever met. The last time I saw him, he was being hauled off by the cops who had determined to arrest him on any minor infraction. In this case, it was for walking towards them, having just left the bar. They arrested him for public drunkenness. Upon seeing him, they stopped arresting someone else, pulled that person out of the car and before Pete could open his mouth they manhandled him roughly and tossed him in the back of the car. I’ll save hippy Pete’s stories for another time. The 2nd bravest individual was a diminutive sized lesbian hippy and train hopper. I don’t know if it is the tiny size or hippy outcast lifestyle and the general cosmic weirdness that follows certain people but it is an interesting contrast to the special forces guys and assorted bad asses I have met along the way.

During our cultural training for this trip they did exercises about adapting to unknown cultural misunderstandings. Different cultures have their own unique worldviews… and you don’t know them. Hold that thought for when we get back to special forces guy.

One of the people we met at our cultural training was another train hopper, death metal, hard case and seemed out of place as to the type of people you would picture doing “development work” in other countries. At one point she said, “Weird shit just happens to me”. Mrs.C5 chimmed in, “Oh. You are just like my husband”. She had heard many of my stories. Enough that they frustate her and just sound annoyingly grandiose and braggerdly. But this time she got to watch it happen. We both got to share the same, “What the hell just happened” and strangely the next day we were both mentally syncked. Each person would say what the other person was thinking. Some cosmic connection.

I have no use for religion or spirituality. Been there. Done that. I pursued spirituality far deeper than most religious people I have met. In the end I find that I have no spirituality at all.

Warning…Nerd Alert! – I appreciate the Klingon’s views on religion in Star Trek. Klingons don’t speak of their religious past. It turns out there were Klingon Gods but they were more trouble than they were worth. So one day, all the warriors got together and killed them.

I am not a big fan of the gods and have wished at times that they would jsut leave me the fuck alone.

During long periods of dull, I think I am becoming an atheist instead of an Angry Agnostic… but converting to athiesm requires far too much faith and to do so I would have to ignore all the really weird shit and questionably paranormal experiences that seem to happen around me.

Most people that know me would generally see me as the Dangerous Guy. At best a protector type. At worst unstable… depending on their level of squeamishness. Well, that’s not quite true. I play the Big but Awkward, No Threat guy… until they see me flip that switch. Then they get frightened of me. There’s just no winning with people. It’s better when it happens in reverse. When I come off as intimidating and frightening and morally questionable… and then they discover there is an intelligent, ethical and squishy plush toy underneath.

In a different history I probably would have been a type of shaman or priest or ascetic warrior priest like the Shinobi or Ninja warriors of Japan. I was deeply influenced by Masaki Hatsumi in my early years. There is a big misconception about the Ninja in North America… and in Japan for that matter.

I am the first person to say this… so pay attention.

The Big Scary Ninja were, sort of, the Hippies of medieval Japan.

The Counter Culture drop outs that wanted to find enlightenment and self-sufficiency… as far away from civilization and the insane samurai culture as they could get. The warrior elite, the Samurai, saw them as immoral sub-human subversives to be killed on sight. Those darned Shinobi just wouldn’t play by the Budo rules.

Now the real Ninja were a unique mix of cultures that happened deep in the mountains. A mixture of warrior ascetic priests, direct experience mystics, Chinese refugees fleeing persecution, some with direct connection to Tibetan mystics and ex-Samurai and their families that decided not to fall on their sword when their lige lord warlord fell, as expected and were then considered persona non grata. These influences mixed together out in the boonies. It started with a general acceptance that the dominant warlike culture was insane and to be avoided. Somewhere between survivalist and hippy. But it’s the ascetic direct experience mysticism that is the reason that I’m on this little rambling diatribe, fellow Ninjas and brothers and sisters of the apocalypse.

Weird Shit happens to travelers. At least the mysticism of it all.

I supposed there is a survival lesson to be learned here afterall. I wasn’t meaning to get this spiritually eclectic but, what the hell. That’s stream of consciousness, Baby.

C5 Rule of Survival – Weird shit happens (when the shit hits the fan)

Back to being an Angry Agnostic. Bison prepper mentioned “the lizard brain”. The ancient primitive survival centre of the brain that doesn’t play well with others. I have been there. It’s pretty dark. It’s hard to live with. It’s hard to come back from. PTSD blows big lumpy semen filled chunks. At the other end of the spectrum is social monkey brain. You might think of it as Samurai brain. Happy fatalism. I’m getting esoteric here but “Survivalist Brain”, “Anarchist punk rock Brain” or “Ninja Brain” should be somewhere comfortably between the two for best effects.

On the down sides, you must be diligent not to see patterns that are not there. Experienced angry agnostic speaking. I’ll do a more thorough article on religion when the shit hits the fan another time. One of the biggest dangers that will be faced will be violent fundamentalist religions as things break down and people seek out comforting meaning. That is a constant in collapses. Russians are now far more religious than even the States since the USSR collapse, and you can be arrested for being anti-religion.

Behavioural scientists did some experiments by putting people under stress, then made people find connections between concepts. Those under stress found connections. Those not under stress figured out quickly that it was a scam and there weren’t any connections. In a similar way, the scientists that did the precursor work for CBT or cognitive behaviour therapy were able to sort optimists from pessimists. Once again, they gave them an unsolvable problem. The inherent optimists kept at it, believing it was solvable. The inherent pessimists figured out they were being played quickly and quit. A lesson here is that pessimists, those sadder were wiser. Pessimists actually have a more realistic view of the world. Both evolved as survival traits because “without optimism, we would never grasp for the barely possible. Without pessimism, we would never count the costs of actually getting there”.

Mrs.C5 is an optimist, who life has taught her to be a pessimist. I am a pessimist that has had to learn to be an optimist to keep from dying from despair. We are both rather grumpy but I try to be fun about it.

Mrs.C5 plows her way through life, directly, demanding her way and her rights. Me, I take the path of least resistance. I’m like a surfer. I sit there, bored to tears, waiting for my wave. When it comes, I ride it, come hell or high water.

Mrs.C5 plows her way through the hard work of gardening. I wander through the farm finding and spreading the secondary permaculture food systems.

Mrs.C5 is a very linear organizer. I am the flexible adapter to any situation.

Mrs.C5 is a tree forcing herself to defy gravity. I am a river following gravity towards the sea.

Oh let’s skip the little things of the story that happened, including machines that stopped working as we got to them. The early clues that the gods were at play this day.
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Like the hostal we were staying at. This was what was advertised. We were a little lost finding it. I mentioned to her, “You are so lucky having a man like me. What other man would say ‘Shure honey, let’s walk down the creepy warehouse district full of homeless people, after dark in a foreign country not knowing how to get to our destination, . Sounds like fun’”.

But like any great adventure, it started with the words, “We really need to find beer”.

No great adventure starts with a salad.

We did eventually find it. The hostel. Not the beer. That was a bit more challenging. What’s not to like about a hostel butted up against a biker compound with people only wearing a lower rocker and MC patch, proving to the big boys that they can hold the territory as they wait to be patched over. I see. This as a biker town. I guess I am wearing black tonight.
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It was a Sunday night in a catholic country. Finding beer was going to be challenging. We were in a bit of a rush as we tried to figure out where the downtown was. At one point we looked down a back alley and noticed a bunch of women doing some choreographed ethnic dancing to an African influenced beat. Such things don’t interest me much… and it was heading in a direction that would take us away from the direction we wanted to go. Mrs.C5 said, “Do you want to go see that?” I replied, “not really”. “Me neither”.

But that was a moment that was calling me. I sort of knew, that was the direction that was pulling me. That was where I would find the Rabbit Hole. I knew if I didn’t go in that direction… I would regret it. So we decided to walk down the creepy alley in the dark towards to what turned out to be about 150 women flicking their long skirts in unison with a few looks of, “Who the hell are the crazy gringos”. Sure, it was more interesting than line dancing but what really happened is that it changed our direction and timing in the flow of the universe. We continued down the creepy dark alley to the assorted stares of locals on the continued quest for beer with no real knowledge of where we were heading. After about 20 minutes of walking we heard the far off, thump thump thump of live rock and roll. Just follow that sound. Beer awaits. As we approached, the tune became clear. “I need a dirty woman” by Pink Floyd. Well, it would have to do.

As we walked into the place a topless woman was lying on a table being tattooed by a rather focused artist. We followed a bleached blonde leather jacketed punk/rockabilly betty up the stairs… and somehow we had stumbled into where the cool people in this town were. Luckily I matched the colour code. Lots of really large Hispanics in black with beards. Grungy metal heads. Home.

The cover band was finishing up and half the people were clearing out which was fine with us and we proceeded to get sloshed in a foreign country. The host was fantastic. Bearded with a partial Mohawk. He was one of those rare hosts that besides bringing drinks would sit down at people’s tables to get to know people and make them feel welcome. As the party progressed he passed out some barbequed beef ribs and chunks of steak. Gotta love a host that gives you free meat. That’s when I got to relax and really started noticing things. If any of the strange happenings of the day had gone any differently, if the timing had been off, if we hadn’t followed the back alley dancing girls rabbit hole, we never would have found this place. At one point Mrs.C5 said something like, “this is like one of your stories of weird shit happening to you”. I replied something like, “See I told you”. When onto the second pitcher, a few things didn’t add up. There was no way this place was making money. The cover charge was the equivalent of $0.40. The beer was much too cheap as if it was just to cover costs. There was the free meat. Then there was the large, partially patched biker… and I went, hmmm. It made sense that the bar was controlled by an “organization”. It certainly wouldn’t be the first. People were smoking up openly. Considering the over the top drug war, road blocks and person searches going on down here, it seemed odd but biker town mixed with port city explained enough to me. Mrs.C5 asked the host about it. He simply went to the next table, took their joint and offered it to her. I’m sorta passed that phase of life but considering the bikers in the room I took a ½ hoot to provide social proof just in case anyone in the room was wondering what the big gringo was doing there.

Now having been thoroughly modified and having had an interesting evening it was time to head home…

… that’s when it got weird.

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(What are you looking at, Punk. Dont mess with the Pelican Gang)

Heading downstairs to the bar that didn’t seem to serve anything, Mrs.C5 started chatting with a rather muscular fellow that I guessed was the bar owner. He spoke a very small amount of English. It seemed he wanted to communicate something important to me. He said, very focused and deliberately, “You Are The Man”, took my hand and very slowly started counting out cigarettes into my hand, one through ten. I tried to stop him, as I still had a few in my pack. (this is where I have to fess up to, this trip ended my most successful quit smoking attempt. Even fear of death and lung damage doesn’t seem to be enough to break this horrible addiction. I present my weak side in case anyone sees me as a hero or a tough guy or a role model. Life is tough. Far tougher than I am.) I tried to stop him but he was adamant and determined to make his point, “You Are The Man”. I thought it might have something to do with Spanish machismo culture… and that it might have been a critique of that I let Mrs.C5 speak for me because she is quad-lingual. I understood, just like we were warned during our cultural training, that a cultural misunderstanding was happening. I decided to tell him why I treat Mrs.C5 as a rare equal. I said in his ear, “When I met her, I told her that if she wanted to be treated as an equal, my expectation was that she would back me up in a machete fight, facing the same Risks and Consequences”. His eyes lite up and once again firmly said “You Are The Man”. He then told me that he was retired special forces and grabbed his dog tags hanging on the bar, put them in my hand and made it clear this was a gift. This confused the hell out of both me and Mrs.C5. Now, dog tags are a dime a dozen and though weird, I was more confused than impressed. I didn’t want his guy’s dog tags. Because of the guy’s persistence and eye contact and “You Are the Man” continuation, I first thought “OMG. I wonder if he might be hitting on me”. Flattered but no. Maybe he was working towards a three way. Maybe he was envisioning a “spit roast”. I just wasn’t sure what place I fit into that sexual position. Yikes.

Being a big gringo looking all biker, he might have been looking at me as a future illicit business partner. I thought, considering a previous awkward conversation with someone defending the value of machismo and corruption, that might be what this was about. That particular person had asked me, “Do you know the history of the word Testify ?”. After a few moments, I realized I did… because of my theology background and small interest in dead languages. To “testify” is to swear an oath of truthfulness while cupping another man’s balls or having your own balls cupped. No shit. A very vulnerable position of extreme trust in warrior cultures where it could go terribly wrong if trust is broken, as in if trust is broken your genetic line is ended with a squeeze. I thought that might be what was going on here. Mrs.C5 was trying to leave because she thought it was some set up for a scam. I decided to casually look at the tags and went “holy shit!” the information on them seemed correct. Black tags with rubber edges so they would not make a noise if they hit each other in stealth encounters. I tried to give them back but was met with, “You Are The Man”. I eventually gave up because, as I said, he was rather muscular and maybe refusing a gift might be taken as an insult. Well, now I am stuck with someone else’s dog tags.

As we left, wandering down the street looking for a cab, both of us were quieter than usual, going “what the fuck just happened”. Somehow, we realized that we were psychicly linked in the ride home, saying what the other was thinking. The encounter entered our dreams that night. Waking up the next day our first thoughts were, “what the fuck”. Half confused, half laughing, plus and extra half exhilarated. I wrote it all off eventually by determining, most likely the guy was just on E. “I am the man” LOL. If that was the case, I still wanted to go back to the bar and try to return the tags… like I said he was a big guy and I’m just not brave enough anymore at 50 years of age to risk insulting the guy so that I can feel good about myself by being honest and honorable. So I guess I am stuck with them. Here’s the tags. I will block out information so that it does not lead back to him… minus the part that says “no religion”, which is, sort of, the odd point of this post.
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So, was this me, “being in the zone” cosmically speaking… or simply the result of being willing to step out my front door… looking for beer. You decide. I’m not smart enough to know. I’ll err on the side of caution and go with it is the connection of un-connectable events because of the stress and the mysticism of travel.

And then…

They wouldn’t let us back into the country.

The laws had changed since we first got here. It turns out we were sent as the guinea pigs by the organization that hadn’t done the necessary paperwork, to see if we could get back in. After sitting around for ½ hour, phone calls to superiors and the realization we may have to abandon some of our valuable stuff across the border, with no idea how to get back to the previous town or how to get out of the country… they gave us a 90 day extension.

The thing is, Mrs.C5 knew her work was going to be done in that timeframe, both of us were about done with city life and were sort of depressed about another 6 months of this. I have already learned all I can here.

Also, another organization had contacted her mid-trip for an interview.

So the good news is… there may be another series coming. C5 Survival advice from the Caribbean.

The bad news is we will be dirt poor if we do this as the living allowance will be smaller and won’t cover me.

Which means I finally have to get around to working out the donations page. Fear not. It won’t be what you think and should still be funny enough for a good read… and hopefully a “tip” for my efforts. Clearly, I am not very business or computer savvy as it probably should have been up when I started this blog. But that tells you all, the information is more important to be spread than me telling you what you want to hear for a greater readership… for more donations or ad revenue.

Well, since this post has been purely entertainment, why not finish it with DJ-C5. The Wolfman of the Wasteland, the Ayatollah of rock and rolla.

Serendipitisly, this song was stuck in my head the entire trip. How about a little voodoo to go with your cosmic corn flakes.

Now, how about a little Russian propaganda to sprinkle on your breakfast cereal. I stumbled on this while looking for the other video and went, WOW!! That’s bold. Pussy riot is often kicking Putin’s balls and keeps being put in prison by the KGB and the Russian Orthodox church. Now they are taking aim at U.S.. Dystopian style.

Here’s some interesting Wikipedia reading to go with it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pussy_Riot

And some more climate chaos news of death and destruction.
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/as-a-river-dies-india-could-be-facing-its-greatest-human-9060070

It makes you want to Hug a Hippy tree Hugger, Clobber a Climate Change deniaal spin doctor, and involuntarily Butt fuck a Banker.

And to prove my musical tastes aren’t entirely stuck in the 80s, if all this is just too much, take my advice and fuck the pain away.

And just to fuck with my fans a bit.

But wait! There’s more. I guess I just can’t stop here because there is more to the story.

The next part of our travels involved me, once again, saying to Mrs.C5, “Sure honey. Let’s head into the area that’s inhospitable to human life while earthquakes have been happening that crumble mountain highways and head directly towards the volcano that started to come alive and blows every coupla hours. Sounds like a great idea.”
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We got a note from a friend on the Canadian front
” we’re having some weird weather.
> After no rain for most of July, last week parts of NB and
> PEI were hit with torrential downpours and hail. Fortunately
> NS was spared but (less fortunately) we also didn’t get
> an appreciable amount of rain. This was followed by some
> single digit night time temps – down to 6c on Sunday! – and a
> a high of only 18c today.”
We had already heard about all the flooding in Ontario and Quebec in the spring. I have already told you folks about “rain bombs” being the new normal, mixed with droughts (a new term to listen for is “Flash Droughts), the end of the northern oscillation that moderates Canadian weather and unseasonable cool periods in eastern North America or Western Europe as warm air pushes north into the Artic and Siberia thus forcing cold air fronts far south. The West burns. The East weather doesn’t know what to do. More carbon and methane is released causing more greenhouse climate chaos in a feedback loop. Crops fail. People become refugees. Etc…

Its not quite good enough to be a C5 Rule of Survival….but I’ll use it anyhoo – To counter greenhouse effects – build more greenhouses. To counter rain bombs – store more water. It is counter intuitive.

This town of 3000 in the middle of butt fuck nowhere with almost no cars, historic, low tech agrarian agriculture and strong community of ancient practices and expectations, was there on display, including sheep, burrows, cows and llamas walking through town.
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One of the geriatric grandpappys of survivalism, the late Mel Tappan, having mocked bugging out, deep woods redoubts, and solo homestead farms, would have considered this place the perfect survival retreat location. But the gods have a sick and twisted sense of sarcastic irony. Like the guy who introduced jogging to America, dying of a heart attack while jogging, or the Grape Nuts guy, “did you know the many parts of the pine tree are edible”, Euell Gibbons, also dying of a heart attack during a TV interview right after saying he would live to be 100… or Mel Tappan himself. Mr duchebag Survivalist, dying 3 years younger than me. According to wikipedia “Tappan spent the last years of his own life using a wheelchair, after initially incurring a severe foot laceration from a broken drinking glass in his swimming pool and then developing debilitating leg failure, due in part to the obesity developed during his convalescence from the laceration. This eventually led to congestive heart failure.”

(I must mock carefully, lest the gods take notice me. PTSD, lung cancer potential and a heart attack waiting to happen. I’m just not here for the long haul.)

My point being, this was the perfect survival location. One tiny problem though. There is only some tiny slivers of ancient ice up on the mountains. The old men are pointing at the hills. There is supposed to be snow up there this time of year. That’s the year’s supply of water. No water means no food and a bunch more anthropomorphic climate change refugees. Maybe about now is a good time for the villagers to toss a virgin in the volcano. Bad time to be a virgin.
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After about a week of thinking about it, special forces dude, might have just liked our style and wanted our vibe in his club. Maybe he was just saying, “You Da Man”.

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