Kalo (referred to as David, because he acted nothing like his “Hey Dude” Big Lebowski style nature I knew him for before)
I hadn’t even considered starting to write my blog yet, nevertheless doing entries day by day before tonight.
No, this is not a mistake, I’m starting my daily entries with Day 4 because so far, this has been the most inspirational event in my travels and a great influence on the way my blog will be run.
This is the story of my encounter with Ronald, the most interesting man in the world.
Confident, in an innocent “look what I can do” childlike manner, Ronald looks like a mafioso but acts like a sketchy teenager. Short and stocky, with a large beer gut and a hiker’s legs, he smiles with squinting eyes as he talks. His facial hair is trimmed precisely in to a goatee that sits under a bulbous, red nose. If David was thin Santa, Ronald would be the typical Santa figure and definitely the polar opposite of David. He wears a gold chain and a nice watch, alongside a typical uniform of a sports t-shirt and pair of cargo shorts. When he speaks, he is completely uninterruptable.
Main quality: Overwhelming
It doesn’t seem anyone is quite sure what Ronald does exactly, but from the gist of it, he is a luxury jewelry distributor who crafts, or hires others to craft, pieces that are special ordered through his services. He is a frequent traveler between the United States and South East Asia, especially Thailand, and backpacks around the location often forsaking motor vehicles despite his age. He is extremely proud of this fact, as he alerts everyone to. In addition to that, he collects some of the materials for his work himself, which sometimes includes rappelling of cliff sides to collect whale bones and jade.
Since there is no possible way I can remember all the dialogue that transpired, I will do my best to instead describe the situation.
I was alerted to the fact that people would be stopping by throughout the day, but I made little note of the fact, attending to my work as usual and afterwards absorbing myself in to my books. Earlier that day, Michio stopped by to talk to Kevin and drop off a check for the work David and I did two days ago. Kevin later told David who relayed the message to me, that I was offered a place to stay at Michio’s place after my WWOOFing obligations were over and that he was located in downtown Santa Barbara next to the bustling State Street.
I spend the day mowing the dry and overgrown grass around the compound with an old, electric mower attached to an extension cord as well as intermittently pulling stalks of invasive rice that quickly spread around the ranch once the upkeep duties started to be neglected. Kevin had left the van on when he backed it up to the gate to move pepper tree limbs from the day before, so this was my busy work until the battery on the truck was recharged. He was busy in his workshop preparing his crafts for the Sunday Market, so today was a particularly quiet day compared to the others.
It was at first, at least.
After work I returned to the lounge as usual to delve deeper in to the book I was reading as David worked on his laptop. Kevin came by to alert me that his friend from Thailand, the one who got him in to traveling there, was visiting and we would be having dinner in the lounge rather than in his house. I responded politely and passively, moving my things except the book I was reading and continued about my studies, the sun setting in the western sky and the light cascading through the screen doors over the dining room table as I pushed on. The gradient of evening was matched by the headlights of a vehicle pulling in out the corner of my eye as I turned the page, once again I let it be and continued reading.
I had assumed, but didn’t look up that it was Ronald. It was.
Soon after I overheard voices coming from the other side of The Lounge and speaking about the preparations of the evening. I soon made my way over to the entrance of the garden to see Kalo, Kevin and Ronald smoking a joint that Ronald prepared before his visit. Kevin introduced me to him and I gave him my tiny spiel about who I was while silently becoming absorbed in their chatter. Soon after, they were both wildly high and I watched in astounded silence the rest of the events that occurred.
A few moments later, Nipa had brought the food down to The Lounge and set it up on the Island while David set the dinner table. Kevin and Ronald were gleefully going back and forth with idle chitchat as I smiled from a short distance away.
I was having fun just watching these 60-70 year old men talk like 17 year old kids, noticing the youthfulness that dwelt inside of them.
David was the first to be seated and then Nipa followed by Kevin, Ronald and I. We loaded up our corn tortillas and sat at the table as Ronald began to cement himself in to our lives as by far the most fantastic being in existence.
Everything that Ronald proceeded to say, no matter how true they were, sounded preposterous, which wasn’t helped by the amount of explicit detail he went in as if everything he did was so goddamn important.
Occasionally, he would ask me a question and turn to me, face down in my phone trying to record this, to see if I agreed. I took cue and smiled, allowing him to interpret it the way he wanted to.
Meanwhile, David sat at the table with his head in his hand and a smile that suggested he knew exactly what he was going to say once Ronald took a breath.
Nipa sat blankly with a stare that could be traced in a straight line away from everyone else at the table.
Her slight discomfort and David’s complete lack of interest were by far the most amusing aspects of this interaction.
At first, the three men went back and forth about things that were mundane to them, but amazing to me, like the airports they flew out of when going to Thailand, random locations in the country and general backpacking information.
In passing, Ronald mentioned everything that I had listed when making a backpacking food list to Kevin, who was in the clouds and half halfheartedly listening.
Occasionally, Kevin would stammer over a joke’s delivery and Ronald would share some irrelevant knowledge in a very profound way along with repeating random personal philosophy like they were new sentiments uttered for the first time to the universe.
They both sounded like me when I’m at social functions.
Meanwhile, David smiled, still rather unimpressed.
It was like all four of them represented different aspects of myself. It was at this moment that I had a revelation that “I” exist with these people that I consider “others” but there wasn’t really a dividing aspect between us, besides my perspective. I was as much to them a mirror their behaviors as them mine, and if I approach everyone I meet with this attitude, there will always be a way to empathize with them.
Anyways, the conversation started to shift to mindblowing new dimensions as Ronald would say life changing and particularly controversial things with no regard to their explicit nature or the implications to people around him.
Suicide rates in Thailand
Skeevy underground things
The suspect nature of Thai women wanting to date foreigners (in front of Nipa)
This is when David started chiming in with perfectly timed sarcasm and various quips to what the other two were rambling about. It was like he would drop this hard, irrefutable statement or comment on them and they would respond with their unfocused and redundant statements.
Eventually Nipa excused herself, after Kevin finished wandering around the room aimlessly in an attempt to be a good host and started massaging her shoulders as a way to divert his inexorable boredom.
One exchange I do remember from the night was after Ronald went to the subject of how he was once trapped in an unhappy, failing and otherwise doomed marriage, so he filled this emotional gap by buying Ferraris, boats and extensions on his house.
This was a startling juxtaposition to Kevin, his old friend and his minimalist lifestyle.
David intervened by saying: “Were you happy? At least for a second?!”
Equally overwhelming was how instead of being this self absorbed, rather wealthy guy, Ronald responded genuinely about how it was his “two awesome kids” that helped him salvage his happiness in the wake of what was happening to his family.
Eventually, Kevin decided that that time had come for the night to end and everyone stood up to say they goodbyes. As the event was winding down, the heat from the day caused huge gusts of winds from the ocean to permeate through the night sky. This rattled the dried out leaves of the banana trees and pushed around the shutter doors of The Lounge.
I eventually returned to my tent, noticing the orange new moon hanging over the Pacific across the highway. As I lay down to sleep, the headlights looked like flashes of lightning and the peppercorns dropping from the tree above me were rain against my tent.