Grinder encounters (again)

(A happy family reunion, Peru – 01/08/2018)

Undoubtedly, Grinder is a useful tool for a gay man when traveling alone. Despite its toxicity at times (too often though), it allows you to contact people. And, like everywhere, there is bad people but also good people.

I always believed that every person in your life has a meaning. Every encounter has a purpose. The tricky thing is to know that purpose. The beauty of my trip is that I am finding out about that purpose quite quickly and I am experiencing how beautiful that purpose is.

During my stay in Lima, and despite being alone for many days in a shitty accommodation (until I met my old friend in the last 2 days of my stay in the city), I only met one guy in grinder: Leandro.

Leandro is from Venezuela, and like many of his country fellows, he had to leave the country to venture a better life somewhere else, in this case Peru. We went for lunch together and a coffee afterwards. And although we had a nice conversation and time together, we did not meet again. In that respect, it was an unconventional meet under the standards that normally apply on the app. It was not a date, it was not a hook-up. Just two people sharing their life experiences.

That afternoon I had to move to a completely different part of the town and entered a period of introspection, so I did not meet nor speak to Leandro again.

For a strange reason, few weeks later when I was in Colombia, I messaged him. Leandro was trying to reunite the money to bring his family to Peru, as the situation in Venezuela deteriorates by the day.  At this point I had an impulse: that was the purpose of our meeting. Leandro never asked me anything, but I offered him the money for the passage of one of his family members.

I have been in the same situation, where someone who barely knew me helped with in a generous manner, with no questions, without expecting something back. So it was my turn to return some of that. I want to believe good people are out there, everywhere. I want to believe social media and apps are not shallow places only. Good will and energy is everywhere. And the more you give, the more you receive.

So I am glad I could help this family to have a better life. Good luck to all of you in this new phase! God bless you all, Leandro.

One day there will be no borders, no customs, no closed countries…. We all will be people of the world and no one will have to leave his place because there is no hope or opportunities due to the incompetence and confrontation between men.

Grinder perks

(An unconventional party in Santiago – 05/05/2018)

Is inevitable for a gay man traveling alone not to use dating apps when in a city. Although the selection of apps is vast, seems grinder is in the DNA of every country gay life.

Today for a person starting to socialize in the gay world is as easy as downloading a free app in the smartphone. What a difference from my first steps in gay world back in the 1990. Those beginnings are worth, if not a book, a good post. But let’s go back to today’s story.

After 6 weeks in icy and lonely Patagonia, it was time for some urban lifestyle and gay socializing. So I deployed my fishing net and turned on grinder upon my arrival to Santiago.

Perhaps is my age, perhaps is my mood… but it takes lots of non-transcendental entries before something interesting comes along.

That day it was particularly tedious… so when someone send me a message inviting me to a big party, my curiosity woke up.

The party was going to be celebrated in the evening, with an attendance of roughly 40 people in a location disclosed by whatsapp only 2h prior the start. And, although you could suspect that sex is behind every social gathering, it was not an invitation for a dodgy party. An entrance fee had to be paid and there was going to be a bar and music.

I wasn’t sure if I would go but was good to have a plan if nothing else happens.

Two hours before the start I got my invitation through whatsapp. I fought the idea of going. I imagined either a bad place or a party full of uninteresting people. But the fact was that by 10pm had no better plan so I said to myself ‘what the hell, let’s go to there’

Party was in a flat at the 16th floor of modern block. As I had to disclose to the concierge where I was going, I thought I could sense what he was thinking at that moment…. ‘another one’ …… Part of my was slightly embarrassed although there was no reason for.

Once at the flat door I tried to hear from outside the door any kind of noise either to reassure or dismiss the idea of entering. But nothing. So I had to venture and buzzed the bell.

What I found inside was, at least, refreshing. It seemed that two young men turned their flat into a weekend gay bar. Most of furniture was cleared and a decoration of curtains and lights was throughout the entire place. There was a bar, a DJ and even a cloak check.

‘People in South America are so creative that invent ways to make revenue’ – I thought.   So I went for a drink and decided to relax and enjoy the peculiarity of the setting.

As I chatted to the organizers, the whole thing turned to be more sophisticated than two young guys setting an informal bar. Almost one hour after my arrival, an older guy entered the bar. Turned out to be the manager. I spoke to him as I was in a talkative and curious mood. And he explained to me the way that bar was operated.

Rather than an informal thing, there was an organized structure behind it. The two young boys in the bar and him were working for a company. That company was hiring flats for the weekend only from standard people (imagine you have your flat and rent it for the weekend to an event company). So flat owners leave their flat sat morning. The company arrives at sets the bar and venue for the evening, operates the bar until Sunday morning, to clear and give the flat to their owners in the evening.

Owners don’t know what goes on in their flats and customers never know where the next bar is. The whole thing iterates and get clientele from the whatsapp subscription list plus any local guys in the vicinity found through grinder.

Rest to tell, is like any other gay venue. So there was a bit of everything for everyone. I couldn’t take pics of the entire thing as the hosts did not want pictures of the whole thing, but I managed to get a couple of snapshots.

                

It wasn’t the most amazing party I have been, but certainly was one of the most peculiar venues I have been and, therefore, refreshing. Besides that, I made a new friend and beautiful connection.

Message In a Bottle

(A message received,  Cape Town – 15/01/2018)

If there is something I am convinced about it is that the Universe is playful. I will explain.

Everything you really wish, comes to you. But here’s the playful bit. It doesn’t come to you when you want it. You don`t know when it is coming to you. The universe sends it to you when you don’t expect. Even more, many times you don’t recognise when it finally comes to you. That is the playful part the universe plays. It is like sending a message in a bottle. It is received at some point, but you don’t know when that bottle is going to reach the shore and the message acknowledged.

I was living in my home town, Granada, in the year 2003 when I met a german couple. At that time, I was so bored in my home town, that I was very keen on socialising with foreigners and anyone who would broad my horizons and mindset.

Tom and Klaus. We had few drinks and took them around few places in the city centre. At that time, speaking in english was way more rewarding than speaking my own language. I know is silly, but that was my mindset at that time.

I had a big crush on one of them: Klaus. What a interesting sexy man. He was different, nothing to do with predictible boring locals from Granada (I know I know… that was a silly way of thinking but, again, that was where my mind was at that time).

The theatrical part of me was fantasising the idea of Tom getting food poisoning and staying in the hotel. Or just him tripping in a stair. Or a huge fight with Klaus and quick divorce… (teenagers fantasies) but I knew that it was more useful to use that part of my brain for other more creative purposes.

So I politely and discreetly detached myself from them. There was no point to maintain that contact, as I thought it was not honourable to meet them wishing one to be much closer and the other one much further. I blamed my university commitments for limiting my time with them. We had a couple of coffes before they left Granada.

The following 15 years were a rollercoaster for me. So that memory was stored at the back of my head.

So let’s go back to the present moment and the time where this blog is being written.

That night in Cape Town was hot. And there was full moon. I normally prefer to go to the Manhattan (one of the gay bars in town) to have a sundowner, chill and talk. Cape Town scene is quiet (at least this year has been) so places are not hectic, and there is a feeling of a little family there. I mean, you start to know people and when you get there, just start a chat with who you bump into. The kind of interaction that happens in a bar where everyone knows everyone. It is a pleasant thing. Specially when you are alone in a city.

But that night the Manhattan was particularly dead. I did not encounter the acquantainces I normally do, so I had my drink alone. The drink was there, I only needed the conversation to complete the moment.

Smartphones are our providers of everything nowadays. Tickets, food, sex, shopping, news, friends…. etc. are sourced through the device. Not saying it should be like that, but reality is that we are getting more and more things through them. So opened Grinder to initiate a conversation.

Flicked through few introductions till I started a conversation with someone. We chatted, swapped pics and briefed each other about where we were coming from and what we were doing in South Africa. As the Manhattans was close to its closing time, we agreed to meet at his hotel bar for another drink.

We met at the place and ordered a drink to start our conversation. Went to the terrace so he could smoke. And there, under the moon and hearing the sea waves, I realised the bottle with my message 15 years ago reached the shore of the Cape Town. The man front of me was Klaus.

The memory of the episode in Granada was so distant, and we both have changed (specially me, lost my hair and grew a beard instead) that we did not recognise each other instantly. 15 years later, and 9000km away I ended up meeting the person once I wished so much to do. Just him. Tom did not have to trip the stairs or get food poisoned. Klaus was travelling across South Africa and we ramdomly met again.

These kind of coincidences take me out of my standard mode. It is not the first time something like that occurs. And always catch me off guard. There he is. What I wished for. But do I really want it? Specially now, after such a long time…. I have changed so much in this time… is this really what I want? What is the purpose of this happening now?

I don’t have an answer for those questions. I don’t understand why the universe gives you what you wish at a different time. What is to learn with such thing? I keep thinking is because the universe is playful. And perhaps real needs and wishes don’t have an expire date. They are timeless.

I took the experience as it was. A pleasant coincidence and re-encounter. It was a pleasure to close that circle. To meet Klaus again and reinstate contact. He is still happily married with Tom and I realised that, as much as he is the same beautiful interesting person, my perception and wishes have evolved. Perhaps the Universe allowed me to meet Klaus at the point I could manage my wish in a constructive way.

I am sure that if I visit Berlin we will reinstate our coffee tradition. The three of us.

P.S. Klaus and Tom are fictional names. Elegance protocols 🙂