China is Never Familiar
February 22nd 2005 Hong Kong, China
I used to travel allot for work and some places became very familiar and comfortable. I always looked forward to Spain, France, Mexico, South Africa and other places. This is to say nothing of places I have lived, Italy, Brazil, and Bolivia which are as comfortable as possible.
This is my fifth trip to Hong Kong, and I will be going to China, Vietnam and Singapore on this trip and I must say that this part of the world has never become comfortable for me.
I do not know if it is the money lust that is everywhere? or the in your face commercialism? but Asia has never become familiar to me or comfortable. The smells are strange, the expressions are different and try as I might I cannot get a sense of what is really going on below the surface.
I have only felt this way one other place, and this passed, when I lived in Bolivia, since the culture was predominantly indigenous in Bolivia and I am a person of Latin origin it took time to negotiate the vaguries of the culture, I think I got that culture when I was in Huachacalla, Bolivia which is in the Bolivian altiplano waiting for a total eclipse of the sun in 1994- two little boys came out of a gas station and saw me, with a full reddish beard and my priest friend in his full beard and they declared " mira! Mira ! los conquistadores estan aqui" (Look, look the conquistadores are here) my place in that society was set in place.
But in China and much of Asia I just cannot negotiate the place, the people work very hard and they have a focus that is tough to tolerate and understand. They can do anything, make anything and they are focused on business or whatever else they are doing. There is no sloppyness and no looseness-that is what I love the most about Latin America the looseness. So I just get exhausted here trying to keep up and trying to sheield myself from the neon lights and the people hawking everything.
So I am here in China, working with my Dad- touring factories and doing human rights certifications and trying to figure out what the world will be like when China is the leading world power?