Welcome back

February 4, 2007

Well it’s official, I’m thoroughly grounded, nose first, into English soil. I am even back in my little house, so I hope you find this pic, taken today, appropriate… though sadly not inspirational.

Haywood Leeds

So far since landing back in Leeds I have partied with friends, been cooked for, taken out and generally fussed over, joined a belly dancing workshop, gone walking in the Welsh hills, attended a Salsa class… and… I’ve been to work.
Ten whole days of it.

I’m struck by the coldness of January in England, the thick frost and need to scratch your windscreen of a morning, the miserable faces on the gloomy grey-skinned people… and mostly, perhaps this winters biggest fashion accessory behind the ubiquitous Ugg boots which I had thought were over 18 months ago… the double chin. I think Christmas gluttony and the general wintry temptation to over-eat and sit indoors, has affected quite a few people in an unflattering way.

That aside, the sunsets are filled with more colours (the pollution in the air?), the clouds are smoother and the sky filled with more jet-streams, which, I hadn’t even realised, really are rare in Ecuador.

I can’t help feeling that England is nothing more than a huge canvass for all types of advertising. Inside our homes via televisions, radios, trashy, inward-looking, alarmist, national newspapers, our minds are filled with banal celebrity gossip, non-news and we are machine-gunned with yet more things to want and to buy. Outdoors the bill boards, window displays, neighbour-envy over homes and cars, new kitchens, gardens, and our national obsession with possessions, status and labor-saving, obesity-encouraging devices from ready meals to electronic pepper mills are SO FAR removed from life in Ecuador that there are screams inside my head.

This perpetual bombardment and lifelong conditioning leaves us barely chance to imagine, break free and think or allow an idea to germinate and grow. I have hardly written since I came back. My waking mind filled with trash, my ability to think outside of the socially acceptable almost swamped.

I am trying desperately to resist my consumerist urges by replaying snippets of my trip back to myself; by hanging onto a simpler reality where people are happy, smiling, friendly, open. Where the ground isn’t covered in tarmac, where people don’t wear wellies to wash their cars in suffocating, seemingly inescapable, suburban nightmares.

I am sorry if this post offends some of you. I can only tell you how I feel. (And this is despite the warmest of welcomes given unreservedly to me by family and friends).

You probably think I am being unrealistically idealistic. You’re probably right. Afterall England isn’t so bad. Ecuador certainly wasn’t perfect. I should keep things in perspective. Don’t worry. I’ll give myself chance to get sucked under the water, back onto the hamster wheel of work.

And yes, of course I’m writing this on a Sunday evening. Monday is calling me to my bed, so I can face my money-earning grown-up responsibilities at the appointed alarm-clocked hour.

Good luck out there people.