vinceconaway: (Default)
It's funny, but I've been conceptualizing my return to Chile for so long that is hasn't felt real. Ever since I caught a bus out of Valparaiso in 2014 it has been my intention to return, and even buying a plane ticket didn't add much more than typical money anxiety.

But now I've got an itinerary and I've started booking housing. For some reason, the reality of the trip only starts to really come together in my mind once I've done all my googling for busking info, when I've read my guidebook and marked the places to go, and when I've looked at bus routes in order to map out a progression from city to city in a way that makes practical sense. So now I have it, and it feels like A Thing. I'll let you in on the details next week; I want to give my Patreon patrons a bit of a head start on the details since they're helping finance the trip.

Interestingly, the high-profile Macchu Pichu visit isn't really my focus. At a friend's prodding, for which I'm grateful, I've explored my options to get there beyond just putting the nearby city of Cuzco onto the appropriate part of my calendar, and I've asked my parents for a very luxurious Christmas/birthday present to bring the details together. Beyond that, I'm too busy focusing on January to really give my full attention yet to March.

Don't get me wrong, I expect to be floored by the ruins and I've heard legends from fellow travelers. Still, the busking side of things is what really gets my creative juices flowing, possibly because I unhealthfully define myself through my work. Regardless, I've worked through the first phase of anxiety (though I'm sure there will be others), and now I'm eager and ready!
vinceconaway: (Default)
I've written about my first trip to South America when I went to Buenos Aires on vacation and missed my dulcimer the whole time. In 2014 I went back as a busker, and had an amazing experience.

I hit Buenos Aires, Montevideo (Uruguay), Rosario, San Luís, Córdoba, and Mendoza, plus I dashed across the Andes to briefly visit Santiago de Chile before hitting that country's cultural capital, Valparaiso. I fell in love with Valparaiso and had a really fulfilling experience, but I lost my shirt.

My biggest issue was that South America is really big. Most of my busking has been done in Europe, which is remarkably compact. In Italy, if one city doesn't work I'm within a reasonable train ride of another city I can try, even as repeated day trips if I've prepaid my lodging. In South America that doesn't fly, and it was a better financial decision to eat the loss than to wrack up bigger bills to roll the dice again.

So, when a cop would tell me I was not allowed to busk, I was basically up the creek until I was scheduled to move on. This lead to some really great experiences, but as I said I lost a lot of money on the trip. I'm taking those lessons into account as I plan another South America expedition.

I'm booking a lot more cities, so instead of a week in each place I will spend 3-4 days. It will be a much more hectic travel schedule, but lessens my risk from individual cities not working out (even if I'm busted everywhere I go I'll still get 2-3 days of playing a week). I've done my homework and none of these cities have regulations regarding buskers, but that means nothing when an individual cop decides he doesn't like what you're doing.

I'm also looking to bring some CDs with me. Lacking CDs would have been manageable if more cities had worked out for tips, but they significantly improve profitability and could have helped me with my limited playing time. Also, Argentina has serious trade barriers but Chile has a free-trade agreement with the US, so that will be a huge help as well.

Finally, I'm budgeting with the idea in mind that I'll lose my shirt. Rather than projected grosses, I'm planning on minimal income so that anything above that will be a bonus. Losing money wasn't my problem in 2014, losing money I couldn't afford was my problem.

I'm excited and nervous and can't believe how quickly the dates are approaching!
vinceconaway: (Default)
I'm not good at openness, at sharing my deepest thoughts and feelings. I very much feel that it's my role in life to act as an inspiration, to encourage by example other people to reach far beyond what I'll ever manage. But there's a dark side as well.

A lot of what I share is built around the idea of "this is what it looks like to accomplish your dreams". I want my life to serve as a goad, giving permission to people who are questioning their own paths, but having reached my dreams brought problems as well; I was so used to striving that I didn't know what to do once the heights were attained.

It caused a pretty serious personal crisis, and it's only five years later on that I'm really open to showing my pain. It was 2011, and I had everything I ever wanted. My festival career was on a solid foundation, I had eight tours of Italy under my belt, and a good relationship to top it all off.

But I was miserable.

I had spent years building my life and I didn't know what to do with the edifice I'd created. I understood my basic problem so I set new goals for myself, but since they were artificial I didn't care enough to exert myself and then I had a failure on top of the previous dissatisfaction.

So I took a vacation.

Having achieved one dream, maybe it was time to find a new path. I loved traveling for work, but if I liked hobby travel better then maybe it was time to find a new career. And I knew where I had to go: Buenos Aires.

My great-grandfather had emigrated from Italy to BA, where my grandfather was born before the family moved back to Italy. When his children all went to the US, my great-grandfather retired to Argentina, where he is buried. Having spent significant time in Italy and with a visit to Ireland accomplished, Buenos Aires was the last significant family place I hadn't seen. The last entry on my bucket list.

And that was a part of it, as well. Maybe I wasn't done with my career, maybe I was done with living, and by going to Argentina I was giving myself permission to commit suicide. This wasn't ideation, I wasn't having fantasies or plotting methods, but acknowledging the possibility as a legitimate choice.

And so I went, and spent ten days wishing I'd brought a dulcimer; I enjoyed the trip, but wanted to be a busker. I realized that my career still had heights to ascend and side roads to explore. And I embraced my latest challenge: difficult music. I had spent much of the fall banging my head against an Elizabethan lute tune, Dowland's Lachrimae Pavane, and decided that such music was my new goal.

But it wasn't for several years that I took suicide off the table. As someone who sees his Purpose in setting an example to others, I realized that I would undermine everything I ever achieved, everything I ever wanted, if I pulled a trigger. Instead of acting as an Inspiration, I would become a Cautionary Tale, and anyone who might have been encouraged by my life would be, instead, warned away from bold choices.

I can't have that. I won't have that. And so I'm on this ride until something else brings it to an end.

August 2017

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