Back in Sucre my visa was about to run out, at least that is what I thought. When I turned up I found out that it actually had run out and said the packed in, rather fierce police woman ‘I had to leave the country that same day.’ As luck would have it I somehow managed to get a sixty day extension without even having to pay. An error on their part, but one that saved me from getting the next flight over the border.
So here I am still, in Bolivia where I plan to be for a while longer. I really want to crack this freelancing thing because as difficult as it is… the dodgy phone lines, establishing yourself with people you have never met before in the UK or US… on this side it is easy and fascinating and tremendously rewarding. I have endless ideas and I am loving the experience. New places and people, things that make you feel like crying things that make you cringe.
I am getting drunk much less and am not really missing it. I am just not bored or around people I particularly want to get wasted with so I am not doing it. Clean living Kika. I have friends here but they are mainly the few journalists I like and respect and people that work for one organisation or another. There was one lovely French man I hung out with when it was kicking off in Sucre. He makes documentaries and shakes his head when he speaks English having spent too much time in India. Generally though I am on my own quite a lot, setting stories up, writing up notes, interviewing people, chasing up pitches and so on, taking it all in.
There is one friend mind you that I have been relying on and in some ways spending a fair amount of time with. He is someone that got in touch with me through facebook, and who I knew, not enough, about ten years ago. But he did the same thing as I am doing a while back, going away to Peru and setting himself up as a stringer, and despite the fact that we are very different, he just kind of gets me and he is a lovely lovely new friend.
It’s a very strange thing becoming friends with someone, essentially over email. But it has happened a fair bit since being away. It is as if the friends that know you well just kind of know you will be fine, and almost know what you are going through – give or take the details – because they know you. But there are others, people I knew but were not totally open with, who reading the blog and communicating over email start to reveal themselves more. And I am sure I do the same.
I spent a long while travelling with friends and I am now, about to be on my own again. And it’s funny but if you want to, cocooned in your little world of watching and writing I can actually be very quiet. I can actually go through the day without really having a conversation with anyone. Sometimes I like that. And sometimes it makes me feel incredibly lonely. And then something amazing happens or you meet someone wonderful and it’s all just fine.
I miss my friends. I miss easy conversation, where there is no need to win anyone over. I miss wine on a Tuesday with Sarah and Sarah or a hug off Therese at number 105. I miss creating scandal with the ladies when I go to London and Sunday afternoons under the duvet with the East London lovelies and Lee’s monkey suit humour. I miss my work friends too - having the piss ripped out of me. I miss my mums company in the kitchen, one of my most favourite places in the world, excepting my Abuelita’s cold stone balcony where I used to sit and draw. I miss my dad going on about politics, his face when he sees me for the first time in ages, like you would look at a smiling baby.
And then I miss basic silly stuff; like the radio and decent newspapers and breakfast news, as tripe as it can be, it reassures me that everything is ticking along in mundane normality. I miss British accents and British humour and I miss tuna steaks and a cup of tea.
What I don’t miss is, having to get up at the same time every day. I don’t miss twenty minute lunch breaks or soggy sandwiches from Tescos or Pret. I don’t miss grey skies or realising that three weeks have gone by and I can’t remember what I’ve done because I was doing the same thing every single day.
For all the highs and lows I have no regrets about this journey… still. I am constantly going to new places, not least in my head, and testing myself. My favourite fantasy is still coming through the Arrivals gate at Heathrow and seeing my mum and maybe (hint hint) a couple of girlfriends. But really, that just reminds me how lucky I am to have such brilliant people in my life.