by Niall Doherty


Almost three and a half years since the last one. I’m not proud to have caved, and it’s especially hard to admit it was all for a girl. Fuck, thinking back, I don’t know what came over me. She wasn’t even my type. Dragged me off the dance floor and into a booth, pulled a flask from her purse and put it to my lips. Sips became shots and then came darkness, dreams of screams and broken glass.


Today I began pitching, two solid under my belt. Time may prove me a fool, but I believe I have an edge, mostly because I care more than most and can communicate such. Pretty confident that the only thing standing between me and a big payday is persistence, maybe a slight tweak here and there. Actually enjoying this situation, this challenge. I feel like a rich man waiting patiently for the world to recognize.


Just out of bed, first thing I see online is a harsh, 1-star review of The Cargo Ship Diaries. I feel my heart drop but catch it before it hits the floor, and in the next beat find the hurt being swept away by gratitude. I don’t even think about it, just somehow know, without a doubt, that this a good thing, an opportunity. No idea who you are Max Rosenberg, but you just made my day 🙂


I know a big part of this is me being tired right now, and that everything will be better in the morning, but fuck it. Truth is I feel like a loser and a hypocrite. I’ve been on several calls this week, but what value have I really added? Have I helped anybody’s business? Of course not. I can’t even help my own. Here I am, broke and cold in a shitty little room in Cusco.


I’m the only sober guy in the place. The club is a big square room with a balcony overlooking two sides. You can dance on the bar with your shirt off and see a guy taking a shit in the cubicle next to you. Half the population is Israeli, and they don’t like to mingle. After four I walk home alone, content with the experience, and vowing never to return.

Peruvian hair-do

Peruvian hair-do


I sold my sheep on the advice of an old king, forgot about the merchant’s daughter, hopped a ship across the strait. I was full of swagger and certainty until my eyes wandered and my trust got crushed at a market in Tangier. Now I slog daily at a crystal shop atop a hill few people climb, trying to get back on my feet. It’s not much fun and progress is slow, but I take comfort in knowing how the story ends.


Today makes it five straight that I haven’t practiced my Spanish. I speak a few words to shopkeepers and the like, sure, but real practice means focused study or effortful conversation, and I haven’t been doing any of that lately. I’m all consumed by money worries, scrambling to make something happen on the work front. Language learning has to take a back seat.


Bouncing back. Not monetarily, but mentally. I guess it’s acceptance of my situation, what needs to be done. I wanted it to be easy, expected everything to flow as planned. Adjusting now to the reality of it all. I’ll have to scratch and claw and pay some dues. That’s okay. I can handle that. But this can’t keep happening. I can’t be back here a year from now.


Here’s what happens when you hit the front page of Reddit: Your website gets flooded with traffic and has no choice but to crash; two hundred new people sign up to your mailing lists; you get calls and emails from media outlets back home; your video gets more than ten thousand views overnight, you sell a few books; and you end up meeting one redditor IRL for a chat and a bite to eat.


The opportunity cost of what I’m doing has never been more apparent to me. Maneesh shares the analogy of humans evolving from hunter-gatherers to settled folk; that switch was the first step on the march to world domination. Traveling as I do, routine ain’t easy, and I often lack the physical presence of like-minded people. Those are big things.

La Catedral del Cusco (you can just make out El Cristo Blanco on the hill in the distance)

La Catedral del Cusco (you can just make out el Cristo Blanco on the hill in the distance)


I still find it tough to ask for help. I have this limiting belief that I need to figure it all out for myself, that assistance is akin to cheating. My head holds a silly dream of emerging from solitude with some grand solution, sharing it with the world and being regarded as a genius. But I broke through and asked more than a thousand people for help today. Everything is going to be okay.


The lights have been dimmed, the bar hands are bopping, the party will soon be in full swing. I just got done laughing along to tales of drunken misadventure, mention of diaphragms and heavy Argentinian girls scaling spiked railings. But I head home for an early night, part of me wanting to stay and revel in the frolics, a bigger part determined to get my money right.


Thursday night, after paying off my credit card, my available bank balance was down to $170.32. Three days later, I’m up almost $1,200. More than half came via donations. One name I didn’t recognize sent me five hundred. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that. But grateful, too. Incredibly grateful. Keeping in mind that the world can’t be a more generous place unless people are willing to receive.


It’s after ten when I step out to hit up the mopatop shop. There’s supposed to be a blood moon out tonight, but I’m too buzzed to care. I’m thinking how the software dream is absolutely possible, and how that call just gave me another glimpse of it. It seems like slow progress but I’ve come a long way these past few months. Lessons internalized, feeling like I belong.


We’re still super close, and I’m very glad for that. To hear us on Skype today you’d think we’d never broken up, that we’re doing the long distance thing. But she tells me about the guy she’s currently dating, and I tell her about the girl I was seeing here for a while. No jealousy. I tend to stay on good terms with past flames, but this is a whole other level. It’s something beautiful.

Getting juiced at el Mercado Central de San Perdo in Cusco

Getting juiced at el Mercado Central de San Perdo in Cusco

In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?

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