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The Cupolog

In north america to promote my first book

South Chinatown
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn - © Diego Cupolo 2014

South Chinatown

Bensonhurst, Brooklyn - © Diego Cupolo 2014

Hussein
Reyhanlı, Turkey - © Diego Cupolo 2013

Hussein

Reyhanlı, Turkey - © Diego Cupolo 2013

Mercado Central
Lima, Peru - © Diego Cupolo 2012

Mercado Central

Lima, Peru - © Diego Cupolo 2012

Chicken Flavored Potato Chips
Cali, Colombia - © Diego Cupolo 2012

Chicken Flavored Potato Chips

Cali, Colombia - © Diego Cupolo 2012

Back to the Caribbean
We found a commercial cargo ship bound for Colombia and started packing. The captain said he was leaving from a place called Carti in four days. His cargo: diesel fuel.
Ania and I left Hostal Miami on a Tuesday afternoon. We went to Portobelo, an old Spanish fort, and gathered materials for the five-day boat ride. (mostly oatmeal)
We would spend the trip in different ports along the way and sleep on the floor of the … vessel … and, hopefully, learn some damn sailing vocabulary in the process.
Regular tourist boats cost $400-$650 - more than a flight to Bogota.
The gas boat was $50.
All we had to do was wait.
Our first night in Porotbelo, we stopped by a cornerstore to buy beer. There was at least fifteen people drinking in there and a little girl was dancing to the radio.
“How much for a Balboa?” I asked.
“Forty-five if you stay, sixty-five if you go,” said the Chinese lady at the register.
"I guess we’re staying."
Ania and I drank our beers and watched the little girl do marching drills down aisles of sliced bread and canned fruit. The old men laughed and talked about nothing. Things that weren’t meant to form conversations, but always did.
Where they parked the car yesterday.
How the cat ate a moth.
Burnt rice.
This was the Caribbean. One beer at a time.
Portobelo, Panama - © Diego Cupolo 2011

Back to the Caribbean

We found a commercial cargo ship bound for Colombia and started packing. The captain said he was leaving from a place called Carti in four days. His cargo: diesel fuel.

Ania and I left Hostal Miami on a Tuesday afternoon. We went to Portobelo, an old Spanish fort, and gathered materials for the five-day boat ride. (mostly oatmeal)

We would spend the trip in different ports along the way and sleep on the floor of the … vessel … and, hopefully, learn some damn sailing vocabulary in the process.

Regular tourist boats cost $400-$650 - more than a flight to Bogota.

The gas boat was $50.

All we had to do was wait.

Our first night in Porotbelo, we stopped by a cornerstore to buy beer. There was at least fifteen people drinking in there and a little girl was dancing to the radio.

“How much for a Balboa?” I asked.

“Forty-five if you stay, sixty-five if you go,” said the Chinese lady at the register.

"I guess we’re staying."

Ania and I drank our beers and watched the little girl do marching drills down aisles of sliced bread and canned fruit. The old men laughed and talked about nothing. Things that weren’t meant to form conversations, but always did.

Where they parked the car yesterday.

How the cat ate a moth.

Burnt rice.

This was the Caribbean. One beer at a time.

Portobelo, Panama - © Diego Cupolo 2011

Poder Super Capitalismo
Casco Viejo, Panama City - © Diego Cupolo 2011

Poder Super Capitalismo

Casco Viejo, Panama City - © Diego Cupolo 2011

Mercado Municipal
Leon, Nicaragua
© Diego Cupolo 2011

Mercado Municipal

Leon, Nicaragua

© Diego Cupolo 2011

Grocery List
25 pounds of flour
5 pounds of sugar
5 pounds of corn flour
3 pounds of cheese
2 dozen eggs
5 sticks of margarine
A big bottle of soy oil, max pan, onions, tomatoes, rice, beans and “anything else you want to get.”
A total of more than 60 pounds of stuff to carry up the mountain (more than an hour’s walk from the road.)
Our stay in Comunidad del Volcan was good, but it was getting complicated.
We arrived as volunteers, ready to give our thoughts and labor, but the families seemed to only care about our money. They wanted food mainly, which is understandable and we were happy to help. The problem was we weren’t loaded with cash and the food we bought always ended up fried in one way or another.
We were drowning in oil.
The meals were completely indigestible to the untrained stomach.
Life on top of the mountain became one uncomfortable day after another. The views were beautiful, the people were kind, but we were always trying to avoid the topic of money. They thought we were rich. Sure, in their eyes we were, but not at all in the places we came from.
It was the best way to test our ideals.
Sure, we could have good intentions, but how far were we really willing to go to help the poor? What could we really contribute?
Money didn’t seem like the right answer.
The experience forced us to consider a million issues at once.
Was buying food really helping? What would happen after we left? Would they just rely on someone else?
How can these people become self-sufficient?
Every night Ania and I asked ourselves these questions. It was endless. Our brains hurt more than our stomachs.
Comunidad del Volcan, Nicaragua
© Diego Cupolo 2011

Grocery List

25 pounds of flour

5 pounds of sugar

5 pounds of corn flour

3 pounds of cheese

2 dozen eggs

5 sticks of margarine

A big bottle of soy oil, max pan, onions, tomatoes, rice, beans and “anything else you want to get.”

A total of more than 60 pounds of stuff to carry up the mountain (more than an hour’s walk from the road.)

Our stay in Comunidad del Volcan was good, but it was getting complicated.

We arrived as volunteers, ready to give our thoughts and labor, but the families seemed to only care about our money. They wanted food mainly, which is understandable and we were happy to help. The problem was we weren’t loaded with cash and the food we bought always ended up fried in one way or another.

We were drowning in oil.

The meals were completely indigestible to the untrained stomach.

Life on top of the mountain became one uncomfortable day after another. The views were beautiful, the people were kind, but we were always trying to avoid the topic of money. They thought we were rich. Sure, in their eyes we were, but not at all in the places we came from.

It was the best way to test our ideals.

Sure, we could have good intentions, but how far were we really willing to go to help the poor? What could we really contribute?

Money didn’t seem like the right answer.

The experience forced us to consider a million issues at once.

Was buying food really helping? What would happen after we left? Would they just rely on someone else?

How can these people become self-sufficient?

Every night Ania and I asked ourselves these questions. It was endless. Our brains hurt more than our stomachs.

Comunidad del Volcan, Nicaragua

© Diego Cupolo 2011