#Reality enRoute started summer of 2013 as an auto-ethnographic experiment scribbled in a diary journal, captured in camera phone snapshots and text pixel translated into an online blog. PART I is composed of revised content from realityenroute.blogspot.com.
PART II weaves unwritten events of this first post-college travel with past and ongoing, on-the-road journeys. Elaborated in a series of flashback essays spiral braided across space-time, this second section subsequently precedes up to the present tense juncture.
RER is a map quest of mediated memory,* the see beyond the bedrock shelf of self.**
Unfolded like a humanoid in corporal, cerebral and cyborg computation through image, word, page and computer interface, its evolution explores the metamorphic process of memoir storytelling in a (post)post-it-techno-terrestrial age.***
*This project is dedicated and directed to all lovers of the earth; may our passions burn the planet’s surplus, erupt rising stars.
**This project is dedicated to all living resistance from the blue-green planet of color.
Beginning the East, Becoming Exotic Thursday, August 29, 2013 Târgu Mures, Romania
Overlooking the airplane window, in a short hours ride, below me the landscape of suburban Belgian villages is transformed to rolling green hills of colored body tones. /// At some point, there is a line crossed. That transversal is a topographic map of abdominal nerves, overlooking a vertical perspective; in other words, inside a broken heart is a black hole, suckling energy at the hovering edges of an event horizon –anxiety twists plot’s knots.
On the ground, so too do terrestrial roofs décor differ in relational hues of collective truths. /// That rising up, together like eroded ridges, braided by frictional reality’s oppositional underground – this is also the fence wire that burns built bridges between who?/men.
(I’m a Philippine-Gringita leaving northwest Europe for continental southeast ‘Balkan’ diversity’s direction. Traveling alone, I wear the similar facemask of faraway strangers, though singular familial under the pink wink’d hood of a batlash’d female smile. I feel my creaturely disguise of cosmological creation corrupted by foreign social codes of frozen alien representation.)
( *notes: 1. Regional religious, ethnic and political histories of collective power contradict/complement this post-Communist municipal-industrial airport city-as-community, whose long-standing and over-written histories of ethnic endurance manifests their iconic permanence-as-protest statement on every immeuble.
2. For every tribal-like affiliation, orthodox spiritual order and fragmented spatio-temporal identity, there is history and its people who call this metaphoric church-castle of enclosed heritage/hermitage home.
3. Wolf statues stand as common symbols outside the façade constructions of institutional architecture. Like the state. Like religion. Like the Romans. Like Romania. Like the last, later flash of Latin past –sentimental sediment painted nation.)
*Artful appendages dangle assemblage points of linear progress, aligning a singularity whose gravitational tug impels determined resistance in the improvised dance of remixed positioning. After multiple points criss+crossed hybrid, there is a spiral traced by spinal tensions, turning back to turn tale up&around.
( *notes, continued: 4. Relation of the golden ratio is a closed-form expression of matrix equations.
5. Each sequence is outlined by a rectilinear recurrence, with constant coefficients to determine subtracted difference.
6. Delay of dream passage represents the finite interception of coded error, the firewall of endurance that stands the test of space-time.)
I hitchhike to the end of Roman words. The rolling hills of Romania unfold into fertile rock of Serbia, distance divided by domesticated grass fields as backyards as both sides of border. After two hours of patient pause, I finally stride alone, on an earth deserted, an emptiness embodied, a terrain of history (and war) touching like burned book pages. * I retell the story again and again, the day I received my American passport I crossed la frontera from San Diego to Tijuana, Mexico. I repeat the story so many times, 16 years of legal enclosure erased in an afternoon, that the border becomes undone like a loop. * Again, I am in-between a war of worlds. As symbolic protest, farmers on the Bosnian side block the flow of border traffic with tractors and trucks stretched out over three kilometers. Rather than wait, I walk with the weight of my backpack and heavy heart under the heat. A woman driving her father picks me up, invites me to stop and shower at their house, built after the bombings of the Bosnian war. Before dropping me off at the bus station with a ticket to Sarajevo, they give me a bag full of plums; her father, who spoke little English, assured me, for you, from our garden, no GMO, not like your America. * Thumb up, head down, red rock soil and green mountains hazing background, waffle diner distancing foreground, I hitch a ride from The Boondocks, New Mexico to El Paso, Texas, supposedly the safest city in the United State. I decide to bus traverse the Mexican side, Ciudad Juarez, once recognized as world’s murder capital, now center of global factories and femicide, to witness the wired irony of boundaries collide; I bite my teeth in hunger. * Nighttime is coming fast, tomorrow is my birthday, September 7, I’m getting to the limits of Bosnia and Croatia but no one stops to help, will I sleep under the stars? I feel anxiety atomize as raindrops on my skin, will I rebirth on the other side of the road? * This is the third time I cross the terrestrial U.S.-Mexican border. This time, from Nuevo Laredo, Texas; this time, not alone. My brother accompanies me, on his first trip to a non-English speaking country his first stamp in his permit to pass since our childhood departure from the Philippine Islands. Trembling, he is here to confront his futurity, culminating southward. * The first and last time we hitchhiked together we got a ride with Mr. Apple, whose son abandoned him on a cross-country pre-college journey and happily invited us along. We three hiked through the Rocky Mountains together, us as strangers, as family. * It’s all so anti-climatic, our crossing. The guards stamp our passports and mark our entrance fee. My brother’s fears of the frontier dissolve like differences of currency.
I get a rideshare from the suburbs of Zaghreb to a ten-day Vipassana Meditation session in the mountains of Croatia. I never did anything like this before, invert silence inward under guided instruction. Prior, I never even cultivated a daily meditation practice. But I needed to leave the Shengen zone and consume as little cash as possible. Offered to the pubic based on donations, I sprung at this opportunity for self-reflection. * You picked me up from the edges of Zaghreb. After finishing my 10-day meditation, a classmate invited me to his house in the hills of Budapest, Hungary, where I stayed a few nights before heading back through Croatia, where I met you, near the capital. You were en route to the island of Krk. I did not intend to stop there but you invited me with you. You were born on the Bosnian side. While cruising highway curves, you reminisced your childhood memories burned along the spilled blood riverbanks of war. * For the first three days, sitting meditation attention is solely focused on the space between our nose and lips where respiration circles. Thoughts fly thousand directions but sentience oscillaties around that strip of skin. For the following seven days, we resurface that heightened awareness around our immobile bodies. For ten days, we cannot engage with yoga, dance, martial arts, music, writing or other mediums of sense expression. We eat two veggie meals a day and a small fruit dinner; eyes closed, I look forward to each lunch bite. * We ride over the bridge and arrive on this rocky island, sleepy in end of the summer September. I sip coffee and wine with you and your couple friends from Czechoslovakia, looking out into the still seawater. It appears as if all of us do not speak the same language. Yet we dream the same stars in smiles. You allure us to you and your wife’s timeshare. We whine and dine together on the terrace, overlooking ocean side backyards. * Since we were not permitted to write, I tried to remember little bits of elements to later scribble in words, though I never did ‘til now. Orange peels. Cotton linen. Sips of lentil soup. Chirping birds. Mountain curves. The slow descent of darkness at great heights. * I got tired of the people party and stayed in the empty room of your four children, next door to your sister. I remember the bunk beds, Toy Story sleeping sheets, stacks of boy’s clothes and size 1, 3, 7 and 9 slippers. * One day, I am horrified to find a mosquito buzzing in my room. I hate insects that prick beneath skin. Immediately, I try to kill this incident, without luck. The fly fills me with fear and anxiety, which I cannot express because I choose to sit in silence. * Later, I am horrified when you entered the room and inside me. I hate insects that prick beneath skin. Immediately, I tried to kill this incident, without luck. You haunt me like a fly’s shadow, which I cannot express because I choose to sit in silence. * When the ten-day’s silence ended, I felt renewed. The next mornings, I raced laps around an island trail off Budapest, abandoning the past in the dust. * When the ten-minute silence ended, I felt unclean. The next morning, I showered three times using three soaps as mode of remote control, abandoning the past in the drainage. * When I finally broke down the self-imposed prison of three-year’s silence, I felt refreshed. The next morning, I started writing on blank pages again.
On Friday, November 8, 2013, the eye of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) – at the time the highest wind-speed cyclone to strike land in human history – hit my parent’s heritage home of Bantayan Island, Philippines. * "+after five months over Atlantic ocean exploring European roads, you arrived to your parent’s apartment in Florida exactly one day prior to disaster; on other side of the world, your blood embrace of DNA membranes survives the world’s strongest storm." * Six months later, I would witness the disaster’s destruction face to face on a fourteen day sojourn. In a mini-composition book the size of my hand, I started and half stitched fragments of a people’s story…
* “(Kids, [9-12 years old)]...) nagtangiskamo? (cried [did] you?) naghadlockkamo? (scared [were] you?)” * “You don’t understand. The wind was blowing so hard, I knew it would blow away my house. The wind was blowing so hard, I knew not what sonar-waves blew my ear’s battle-drums. Even Roy-Roy, bati siya (a crude ‘she is deaf’), she seized herself like a swollen seashell shut shelter-tight, full of fear. We all cried, loud. Not loud enough. Did you hear me? Not loud enough.” *
-quoted excerpts from Codex Fragment of Foreshadowed Clouds* (unpublished) * Six months earlier, head spinning hellish stratospheres… I start to break down. I read. I don’t write. I teach / touch play. I do not know what to do. Search for a point in the end.
Plant a Seed
I’m back on the road again. I’m not sure if it is too soon or too late, but again, I’m going not-knowing.
* (Like that moment of rushing, reflection on the median bench in Manhattan.) * Sinking rooted state of suspension, breath before bridge from singular island’s circular distance. * (((In this fixated position, intention hovers over horizon see of possibility; intention is destination-direction beyond currents of desire.))) * I’m here in Oaxaca, Mexico again, heading to tropical highlands for ritual healing; Three times now, I have returned to this route, trailing sign waves of currents as compass. * Looking into filth of forgotten pasts is like looking at sidewalk litter. Mass consumption scatters trash like routes of movement, a symbol to process looking back like oracle bones. In anthropological fashion, I follow the fossils of long-gone footprints and brush off death’s guttered dust. The road slithers and cracks as a rising creature of other-side de/construction. In counter discipline reaction, I resist its crude representation as truth vessel, dirt inverted. I’m here in my head, again, treading down fear’s tower for a backspace eraser: * Looking into seeds of possible futures is like looking at sidewalk litter. Mass production scatters trash like routes of movement, a symbol to process looking forward like oracle bones. In anti-anthropological fashion, I follow the beating hearts of dancing footprints and brush off life’s glittered dust. The road stops and invokes an indigenous community of oppositional re/construction. In counter discipline reaction, I resist its crude representation as truth vessel, dirt inverted. I’m here in my head, again&again, tearing down fear’s tower with a frontier spacebar. *
( notes: 1. Since 2014, teachers continue to occupy Oaxaca City’s Zócalo center. They contest the state’s push to pass laws which will forcibly require educators to teach learning material exclusively in Spanish, an impossible and unthinkable task in a state largely composed of indigenous language-speakers (principally Zapotec and Mixtec, though dozens more). They fight for a future in which people actively participate in its social survival.
2. The southern highland on-the-highway town of San Miguel Suchixtepec contests the existence of a nation-state that permits the limber industry’s illegal forest presence for the sake of profit. They fight for a future in which people promote ecology’s endurance.
3. Las Sierras del Sur of Oaxaca rank fifth in the world’s zones of biodiversity; a pine-oak cloud forest where café, apples and coconut bloom downhill together, alongside the globe’s forward-growing gardeners cultivating cultures of resistance.) * Inside this mushroom cloud, I de-center the (sub)atomic cell of self(-ishness)
* Heart rooted in the soil, I plant a seed on this point & stalk the skeleton’s flesh; here, I will re-wire///(re)write.
-- Mary Alinney Villacastin is a filipina-gringita cosmonaut decolonizing her ocean roots between South Florida and Oaxaca, Mexico. A graduate of anthropology from Barnard College and endlessly enrolled student of Earth, she experiments with auto-ethnographic storytelling (instagram@swamp_sea_suburbia). This is an excerpt from a chapbook project of her travel stories, started on RealityEnRoute.blogspot.com. Her other writings may be found online in Local Nomad, Alien Mouth, Epigraph Magazine, Rambutan Literary, minor literature[s] and Four Ties Lit Review.