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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

HISTORY OF LOGAN - EGYPT IN THE 1980'S

MYFIVEBEST.COM

Be sure to check out http://myfivebest.com/.  This site is made by a friend of mine, James Fowler.  He does a great job of collecting interesting facts.  For some reason I haven't yet put my finger on, these great facts often come in groups of five.

These facts can be anything from useful items such as Five Things to Know When Buying Your First Motorcycle to more frivolous stories such as 5 Necessities In Preparation Of Zombie Apocalypse.

It's easy just just start clicking around his web page and notice you've just passed half an hour reading interesting trivia.

Go check it out.



HISTORY OF LOGAN PART 4 - FINAL CHAPTER

For those just staying tuned, this is a telling of a tale set in the late 1980's when I and two friends journeyed from then West Germany through the USSR into Greece.  We pick it up within Greece.

After the dimly lit KGB polluted USSR, Greece was heavenly.  Clean, lit and open.  One of the favored hobbies was people watching.  Here it was mere entertainment rather than reporting a neighbor in order to get a new refrigerator for turning them in for crimes real or imagined.

Hunter had often show off a pair of sandals which had been made in Greece saying he'd had them for many years.  Although they cost a bit, I picked up a pair from the same craftsman.  This term is loosely applied for they fell apart in short order.  When I asked Hunter about this he admitted he'd never worn his out of the house.  It's one of those times when you stare at someone and think they need a good slapping.

Of Greece, only a few things are remembered.  The streets of Athens were cobbled and steep.  Hordes of people lounged around fountains.  There were many ruins about.  In this land, we were the 'Ugly Americans', playing and sitting on ruins thousands of years old.  Since I've started traveling, I am pleased to note that 'ugly' is not only able to be applied to Americans.  With the advent of cell phones, computers with Skype and even television, it seems that consideration has gone out the proverbial window.


After committing various atrocities upon the ancient artifacts of Greece, we lugged our heavy packs to Egypt.  Here at last my story can become a bit less ethereal as Egypt had quite an impact on me.

It is still remarkable to me how ignorant I was then.  Hopefully, a modicum of wisdom has been hard won with the passage of decades.

My memories of Egypt come in several short stories:

While in Cairo, I observed hundreds of poor people sitting - many black clad widows - along the sides of the road.  They weren't begging nor engaged in commercial activity.  I asked Roy "What are they doing?"

"Waiting." He replied.

"For what?"

"Just waiting."

They weren't, he maintained waiting for anything in particular though it seems to me that they awaited death.  I've known many people in the USA who do this - they are just very busy while meanwhile.


No grass was to be seen anywhere.  As any school kids will tell you this is not unusual as deserts don't have a lot of water and grass needs a huge amount of water.  But for me, it was my first (though not my last) desert.  The intellectual knowing of a desert and the emotional experiencing of a desert are very different.  There is no wonder that most of the current world religions were started by wild eyed madmen emerging from the desert.  As Terry Pratchett said in 'Jingo', “Night poured over the desert. It came suddenly, in purple. In the clear air, the stars drilled down out of the sky, reminding any thoughtful watcher that it is in the deserts and high places that religions are generated. When men see nothing but bottomless infinity over their heads they have always had a driving and desperate urge to find someone to put in the way.”  Unless you've been in - slept in - a desert you can't feel this.  If you have of course you may still think it's total rubbish.  I disagree and have a jaunty quote from a great author to back me up.

For some reason which eludes me to this day, they didn't use vehicle headlights.  I've been to Egypt much more recently and this no longer seems to be the case.  During those days, they didn't.  What's more alarming is that road lines seemed to be regarded (as they still are in much of the world) as incidental art rather than a directive to stay in ones own lane.  Roy, Hunter and I hurdling down a road in a taxi driven by some sort of escaped mental patient who didn't feel like using his headlights and wanted to drive in the middle of the road was still seen as preferable to taking a bus.

Another confusing habit of taxis and indeed it seemed all drivers maniacally competing on the roads had was honking.  Unlike cars I was familiar with stationing the horn in the middle of the steering wheel, these horns were located on the car turn signal.

Why it was located there and how they avoided ripping it off when using the horn to show their rage is another 'mystery of the desert'.   It took me a long time to figure it out but eventually I advanced a theory there were five times when the horn was sounded:

1.  When you are going to hit something or someone.
2.  When you are going to be hit by something with mass - like a car or motorcycle.
3.  When you wanted the traffic to move faster.
4.  When you wanted to signal someone you knew.  This could be either to say "Hi" or "I see your ugly mug Abudlla and I'm still mad at you!"

The fifth and last was the most complicated to pin down.  It didn't happen until one of or mad cap trips through the desert.  We were out in the middle of nowhere.  Miles of visibility and no other vehicles, people or even obstacles were around.

And the cab driver honked his horn.

Immediately I had Roy interrogate the cab driver as to why he sounded his horn.  After much prodding the answer came back - he didn't know why.

5.  At random.

I am pleased to say that in many 'non-Western culture' countries all or part of this list holds true to this day.


For 'westernized' countries, the amount of personal space someone has can usually be measured by extending your arms to full length and clasping your fingers together.   If someone enters this space it is best if they are a good friend if not your 'significant other'.  In Egypt, personal space is about a centimeter.  This takes some getting use to as Egyptians often speak loudly, wildly gesticulate and were often smoking.  The only way I could talk to them without continually backpedaling was to stand my ground but turn a quarter with my body while leaving my head facing them.


Within Cairo, we event went to the fairly cheesy 'light show' at the pyramids.  For those who don't know what that is, some of it was shown in the 1979 James Bond movie "Moonraker".   For those too young for that movie, go to Egypt and see it for yourself.  Or get hold of the movie.  Either way.


I loved Egypt and the temple of Karnak (shown here as it once looked) blew my mind.  Each of the pillars is the kind of thing several men could like hands to encircle.  I've since returned (my pictures here) but the psychological impact didn't hit me as hard.   It is still an impressive place to be sure but the sense of awe on Young Logan (as opposed to Old Jaded Logan) was huge.


One of the places we visited was Alexandria.  Nice place.  Lots of white buildings, a low sea wall, use to have a cool library.  We were wandering through there and spotted a couple male tourists with hair past their shoulders wearing "Jim Beam" (alcohol) t-shirts.  In Egypt (at that time), if you had long hair it meant 'you wanted to be treated as a woman' (ie raped).  Being a Muslim country, alcohol at that time was even more forbidden than today.  I inquired to Roy what would happen to them.  "They will be dead before sundown." he said dismissively.  We continued wandering around.  At one point, we noticed there was no traffic.  No cars, no pedestrians.

Needless to say, this caused me to get just a little screaming paranoid.  We began to worry that in addition to people competing for 'most insensitive tourist' award, we might not survive until sundown.

Rounding a corner, we suddenly relaxed.  There were about a hundred (more?) people sitting at an outdoor cafe.  Everyone's attention was glued to a very small television set.  Football (soccer for folks from the USA) and Egypt was playing.  The screen was about the size of a normal computer screen.  Imagine - a hundred people all watching that tiny screen intently.  This was going on all over the city.  I don't know anything about the game but gather this one was an important one.  But for me, it was a great excuse for ordering tea and a shisha.


Roy had several members of his extended family in Egypt.  Within the Egyptian culture, the importance of family cannot be overstated.  I do remember he related a conversation he had with one of his cousins named 'Ream'.  She had asked him if he knew what 'Ream' meant.

He quipped "To squeeze the juice from?"

She wasn't pleased.  In Classical Arabic, 'Ream' means 'deer'.  Not quite the response she'd hoped for.


An interesting uncle of Roy was a 'businessman' of some sort.  I'm not sure what but at the time the word 'gangster' seemed to fit in nicely.  We went to visit him in a hugely dilapidated building.  Buildings which look like complete crap on the outside are not uncommon in Egypt.  They are often left that way as a form of protective camouflage.  The insides are often sumptuous affairs, piled deep carpeting and silver tea sets.  This was not one of the amazing villas but more of a working office.  It was also my introduction to 'cronies'.  There were half a dozen young, healthy and hard looking men who sat on a bench.  They seemed to have no purpose other than to await orders from Roy's uncle and do his bidding.  After the formal Arabic greetings were exchanged, he immediately offered us soda.  It is worth noting in Egypt that you must refuse until their third offering.  If a man were crawling out of the desert, delirious and dying of dehydration I imagine the conversation would go like this:

"My friend!  You appear to be dying from lack of water!  May I offer you some?"

"No, I just drank a few days ago.  I am fine."

"Please, take this humble water before you die!"

"Oh, I am ready to die anyway.  It is best that you not waste the water on me."

"I must insist you take the water!"

"If you insist, I gratefully accept."

If someone offers you something and you take it without being offered three times, it is seen as very rude.  They may have just offered it to you the first couple times to be polite.  It is an interesting culture.

While we were chatting with Roy's uncle, anonymous men (always men) brought him envelopes of money.  After he glance at it, he would dismiss them with a small hand gesture all the while continuing to talk to us.

His desk was stacked high with lots and lots of envelopes.

At this point, I also became familiar with a strange Egyptian culture involving the phone.  I'm sure this has disappeared with the advent of the cell  phone but at that time only 'hardline' was available.  After three minutes, the cost of the call went up.  Hence, every two and a half minutes, the uncle would hang up and call back to continue a conversation.  Strange.

Sadly, he didn't offer to put us up somewhere nice in Cairo.  I recall being keenly disappointed by this.  I've always maintained that the least a rich relative should do is to put up relatives and their friends - at least for a short time - in some decent lodgings.

So we had to stay in our shit hole.  Later, this place would become one I spent an inordinate amount of time in.


"Can we ride camels?" I asked Roy.

"Fuck no.  Camels are horrible creatures.  They will step on your foot to crush it.  They will try to kill you.  They will spit on you.  They are very uncomfortable to ride." Roy replied emphatically.   Years later, I would find he was correct on all counts.  I settled for horses.

We went near the pyramids.  At that time, before some moron thought it would be a good idea to deface one of their temples, you could still crawl around inside the pyramids.  I did.  Heard that doesn't happen any more.  Honestly, it's not as cool as you'd think.  Well, temperature-wise it is.  It's a bit cold after the desert but it's really uncomfortable to climb around in them now and nothing to see inside.  Note, they are not spaceships.  Anyway, we rented some horses to ride around the pyramids.  Their guide naturally came with.  He was an old grizzled guy who carried a stick with a bit of string tied on the end.   On the end of the string was a small knot.

He asked if we knew how to ride horses.  Roy said he'd never ridden a horse before.  I informed him I'd ridden several times but never had any instruction in it and didn't think I was very good.  Hunter informed him he was 'a very experienced rider'.

Part way through the ride, I had Roy ask the guide if it was possible to make the horses go faster than the walk they seemed set to do.  No sooner had Roy translated this into Arabic than the old man deftly flicked his stringed stick.  It sounded like a bullwhip cracking.

The horses all took off at a dead run.

I was enjoying this.  There are two good speeds for a horse.  Either walking or at a dead run.  The one between (cantor or trotting, aka jogging for a horse) jostles the hell out of you and will abuse your testicles in ways guaranteed to remove amours thoughts - other than killing the horse later.  The full out run or gallop is smooth.  I was doing OK.  Roy was doing pretty good for a beginner.  He had his arms spread wide to hold the reins which confused me but otherwise he seemed to be having a good time.

The 'experienced rider' - Hunter - was not having a good time.  As Roy and I fell into place next to each other we watched him do everything wrong.  It was obvious Hunter was uncomfortable going this fast so he began to do things to slow his horse.

He gave it a lot of rein.  He leaned forward.  He lifted his ass off of the saddle.

Kind of looked like he wanted to win the Kentucky Derby.  Pretty much the opposite of everything you want to do to slow a horse.  To make matters worse, he had begun to slowly slide to the side of the horse.

As Roy and I chanted "Die!  Die!  Die!" we watched Hunter's head slowly get closer to head sized boulders which were streaking by.  We were very sad when the horse had trouble with such an unbalanced load, slowed and stopped on its own.

I'm pretty sure that by this point Hunter had figured out that not only had his anal retentive ways made him hugely unpopular but that we were starting to think "The desert is a mighty big place.  Easy to lose things in it.  Like a body."

He went away to Ireland.  Even sent us a postcard later and that was the last I ever head of him.

It was not nice of me to plot killing him but I was young, impetuous, usually armed and well disposed to violence in those days.  These days, I'd just tell him I want to travel by myself for awhile and off I'd go.  But those were different times.  Ah, unnecessary violence...


After a couple weeks, I'd gone native.  As I do today, I began to dress in the native garb and had even learned some Arabic which incredibly sticks with me to this day.

It's at this point, after about a month in Egypt, the 'Downfall of Logan' happened.

I've done a lot of amazing and irritatingly baffling things in my life.  In the land where 'curse of the pharohs' refers to the dysentery you can pick up from the water, drinking out of a public well strikes me as a 'what the fuck' moment in my life.  Dressed all in desert clothing, speaking in Arabic and felt a bit thirsty.

The next week or so found me lying on my back with a bottle of water stuck in my mouth and shitting my brains out in the kind of place you had to manually flush with a bucket of water.

The problem was compounded when neither Roy nor I thought of the simple thing of going to any pharmacy to buy medicine for what is probably the most common tourist problem in all of Egypt.

Like I said, irritatingly stupid.

Having  some vague notion that it would take western medicine in the USA to cure this unique condition, I cut short my first trip to Egypt and flew back to the states.



VIDEOS

Where am I?
Will this break?
Swimming

Saturday, December 21, 2013

LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND SHAMELESS

MERA

The couple who runs Pizza Kono invited me to an outing they were having with several of their neighbors.  In the USA, this sort of thing doesn't happen most places.  Not since the days of 'block parties' are people willing to speak to their neighbors.  The most you usually know them is in the half hearted wave once per day thing.  Here, the people actually wanted to hang out together.

I waffled a good deal on this.  They wanted to go at nine in the morning and I am pretty nocturnal, often sleeping until sometime between ten and noon.  When he offered to come get me from the hostel, I knew going was going to happen.  I am loath to give up my 'beauty sleep'.  Clearly, I need all I can get.

During the wee (9ish) hours of the morning, the owner of the hostel banged on my door and announced people were here for me.  Stumbling out of the hostel, I espied an ancient van with my friends and slunk into it.  The van was one of those with 'personality'.  Too much personality.  The side door stopped working.  When it began to rain, I joked that we might get a free swimming pool out of it.  The van ran out of gas later.  It was all kinds of fun.

Whenever we got near a police checkpoint, the driver would pull over and switch places with his wife.  Later I asked why and was told he'd forgotten his license at home.  "You had one job..." I joked.

Once we got to the old campsite, there was talk about moving to a different one as it had begun to rain.  Eventually, this idea was discarded and we all paid our $2 each to use the pavilion area.

I have several pictures of the site here.  It's an old place and I figured it would be good for one, maybe two groups of a dozen people.  During the weekends I was told there were hundreds of people here.  This is freaky to me.  It seemed like it would feel crowded with over 20 but to compete with hundreds of people for the small cooking area and such - absurd.  But it is very popular and they don't seem to have a lot of these places around.

From a distance, the site looks presentable as most do but up close...well, I feel I'd need shots to enter the water and there was enough jagged metal and things that in the states they may have used flame throwers on it just to avoid the lawsuits.  In the rest of the world, they teach you to be more responsible for yourself rather than sue those who let you fall into pits and such.

In almost 1970's fashion upon arrival the men went off to play football while the women prepared food.  I stuck with the women as my interest and ability to play football (or any sport) is on the low end of nonexistent.  I did a bit of chatting and a bit of laying around in a hammock for as long as my back could stand it.

In the end, I was happy I went and had a nice time.  I did feel like a bit of a downer because it was I who ended the party at about four by asking my friends "Don't you have a business to run?"  They did but were reluctant to leave the swimming pool.  I'm still not use to the 'laid back lifestyle' here.

Of Mera (the town) itself I saw little other than the town square - it's a very small place and doesn't seem to have much else of interest.



LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND SHAMELESS

On the drive back from Mera, I spotted a very nice compound within walking distance (2-4 KM I'd guess) of Banos and decided to check it out later.

It turned out to be named 'Samari'.

This is the kind of place that if you'd like to drop between $186 and $253 per night (plus tax) you can do it.  This gives you access to the pools, steam rooms, Jacuzzi - sometimes in your own room - but treatments such as massages are extra.

According to the nice lady who gave me a tour of the place, they have thirty seven rooms.  These are usually full so it is necessary to book in advance I was told.  I only saw one family during my time there.  According to my guide, of the guests they usually have, half are locals.  In a country where the average wage is under $5000 per year, this is astonishing.  Would I stay there if I could?  Sure - but I'd rather stay a month and a half in a place I can afford instead...

This place is not conveniently located so any time people want to leave it will be necessary for them to have a taxi called.  I don't imagine the people who stay here would be big fans of walking on dirty streets sometimes lacking in sidewalks as I did.

Pictures of this very pretty place can be found here.

For anyone with the means, here is the contact information:

Samari Spa Resort
Av. de las Amazonas
Via a Puyo Km. 1
Banos, Tungurahua
Ecuador
Tel: +593 - 3 - 274 1855, Fax +593 - 3 - 274 1859.  E-mail: paulinagallegos@samarispa.com.  Webpage:  www.samarispa.com

As I was leaving, I discovered my hat was not in my bag.  I asked my guide about it.

"It is on you bag."

"Er - it's not in my bag - I just looked."

She then showed me.  She hadn't said 'bag' but 'back'.  It was hanging from a strap around my neck and was on my back.  I beamed at her, nodded and said "I'm an idiot.  Thank you!"

Exit, stage right.



HISTORY OF LOGAN - PART 3

Why this was written up:

It feels odd writing about myself but a) some people have expressed an interest and b) a time traveler told me that a lot of history books have gotten wrong some of the stories of my life.  Since it is featured so predominantly in these books it would be less embarrassing if they had some of the details right - hence would I please write up some tales from my history.  I told him it sounded a bit egocentric to write about my past but he assured me future generations would bless me for it and there would be statues and a large temple built to me.  I said the temple might be going a bit too far so they could replace it by naming all children born for the next decade "Logan".  Girls and boys all named Logan.  Although it was an unusual request he assured me they would grant it.  The thought of going into a room and saying "Hey Logan" and having everyone in the room think it's them fills me with a sense of joy at the confusion it will cause.  So I wrote it up.

Some folks feel this will cause paradox.  That is not my problem.  I just want a dump truck full of money which, sadly, I didn't get.  I'd gladly give up everything I own for just a little more...


To continue on with the story...

After we left East Germany the rest of the trip becomes a bit of a blur.  I'm not even sure what all countries we passed through but if I had to guess in order they would be Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and possibly Bulgaria - I'm really not sure.

What I do remember of this leg of the journey was some snapshots:

People staring angrily at us while we were in a restaurant because we were eating 'their food'.  Yes, we paid for it but food wasn't plentiful.  The same thing happened if we wanted to buy something from a store.

Everything was dirty and depressing.   Trash was liberally thrown around though I don't remember it being nearly as dirty as northern India today.

Nobody wanted to talk to us because if they did, the KGB would probably invite them around (via abduction) for a little talk (read as torture).  We were still the 'dangerous western influence'.  I'd like to think that I still am though I believe I may be delusional here.

For some reason hitchhiking didn't work.  This was probably due to the lack of private vehicles and nobody wanting to talk to us.  As a result, we took trains.  While we were at some railway station waiting for yet another train, I was trying to get a nap inside my sleeping bag.  Two staggeringly drunk police officers approached.  One had his gun out waving it about.  They both seemed to be holding each other up.  What to do in a situation like that?  You are kind of stuck in the bag.  If you try to get out you may attract attention.  If you stay in, you are almost completely helpless.  The moments drug by very slowly until the cops finally staggered by.

The lesson never ever to joke with border guards was given.  The border control guy said "Do you have any guns, drugs, pornographic materials, explosives... (etc)?"  At the end of his long list, I winked and said "What do you need?"   That was the first time I ever had a full cavity search.  The man with the rubber glove was not surprisingly gentle and the word 'lube' was not in his vocabulary.  After that a meek 'No sir' sufficed.

It was during this time, both Roy and I began to get very irritated with Hunter.  He was anal.  Really.  It was the little things he was doing during this couple month (?) that were really getting on our nerves but we'd not yet come to the conclusion we had to kill him.  That was still in the future.

Eventually, we made our way from the gloom of the USSR into the light of Greece.  Next time, Athens!



ECUADOR

Interesting fact:  Every Saturday, the current president gets on TV and tells everyone what his upcoming agenda for the following week is.  This is probably a CYOA because the opposition parties may spread lies about him otherwise.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

HISTORY OF LOGAN, VOLUME 2

ONCE UPON A TIME....  Part 2

For those just tuning in, this is a recounting through the cobwebs of memory of my first trip through part of the world back when Europe looked more like this:

At the time when stuff like this was still around

Everything in here is true as far as my wacked out mind can remember.  I've told and retold parts of these stories often and hopefully they haven't grown in the retelling.  If they have, well, I hope you find it entertaining.


After getting my painful inoculations and enough gear to live out in the woods perpetually I was ready to depart with one friend and one acquaintance.

The friend was Roy.  He was of half Egyptian and half other (no idea) descent.  I'd met him while attending some philosophy classes in the college on base.  He was a smart guy and spoke three languages I knew of - Arabic, English and German.  If he spoke more, he never mentioned it.  We did a lot of table top gaming together and hung out.

I remember he had messy black hair, round glasses and was very excited and passionate about everything.  He often wildly gesticulated and leaned forward when he talked, a feature I later came to associate with Egyptians.

There is a small scar on the back of my right hand from one of his celebrations of Ramadan.  During those days, I knew little of the holiday.  What I did know is that during the day time, Roy would become progressively more insane from lack of food and water.  When dusk neared, he would prepare a large meal so that when the clock showed him the sun had gone down, he could gorge himself.  I'd made the mistake of trying to filch a piece of food before gorging time, hence the scar.  He was quick.  Roy was the leader of the group.  He'd traveled at some point in the past and did all of the route planning.  In fact, I don't remember ever making any sort of decision - just paying my share for tickets, food and so on.

Hunter I knew less well other than when he wanted to he could be very funny.  He was also a gamer (table top RPG's) but not as serious as Roy.  Hunter had shoulder length hair and a long face and made a lot of women sigh when they saw him.   Other than doing some gaming with him, I really didn't know him that well.  When you travel with someone you don't know well, you could get someone amazing to travel with (like Pete H. who I traveled with for a month when I first started my current voyage) or someone like Hunter who you'd later plot to kill.

It was with these two people we would set off into what was pretty much 'the unknown'.  Remember that the wall had just come down and there were not a lot of reports as to what was happening over there nor even what existed.  This was at the time before guide books.  Well before the internet existed in any kind of useful form.  There were no smart phones for people to bury themselves into and ignore what was going on around them.  If you were bored, your two choices were either talking to someone else or reading a paper back book you'd lugged with you.

There are a lot of stupid lazy young people.  I was one of them.  It can even be argued that I've grown into a stupid lazy adult.  Because I was stupid and lazy at the time, thoughts of writing down things so they could be preserved didn't even enter my mind.  As a result, my memories are more like snapshots.  These days, I encourage any young people I come across to write things down.  Whether they choose to make them available to others or not is up to them.  You don't write them down for now but to savor or review later in life perhaps after decades.  The excuse that often comes up is they'd rather live in the moment than detract from it, pausing to write things down.  Short sighted.  The moment can be experienced more than once!

The lack of notes is distressing.

Our starting point was Munich.  Rather than taking a train or something, it was to be mostly hitchhiking.

Even today, hitchhiking in Europe is not uncommon.  Young people do it to get around.  Contrast with America where even in the 1980's it was not only seen as dangerous but often illegal.

Of the rides the three of us with our over packed packs received in Germany, only two do I recall.

One was a nun in a subcompact.  She obviously wanted to be charitable and dare I say Christian and give us a ride.  We somehow managed to stuff ourselves and packs into the go kart sized car without lube.  Nuns are unlikely to carry such.  It was also the shortest ride we received.  I think she just took us down a hill and that was her destination.

The second which stands out was a pretty eighteen year old girl driving a large van.  Imagine that if you will.  A pretty girl driving a large empty van happy to stop for three disreputable looking backpackers on the side of the road.  There are so many ways in which this could go wrong.  Some may point out that it is also an interesting beginning for a porno movie.  In our case, we put our best German speaker up in the passenger seat (Roy) to chat with her while Hunter and I fell asleep in the back.

This was in the days before every German learned English.  In those days if you didn't try to at least slaughter their language they wouldn't reveal schooling at Harvard and their English was better than yours.

The other memory I have involves a bit of illegal camping in West Germany.  We may have still been in Bavaria at the time and lugging our anvil packs.  We decided to hide out in a bit of forest and do some illegal camping.  Were there legal places to camp?  Probably.  Did we have a clue where they were?  Who knows.  We just decided to camp in the woods.

Since I'd spent years in the military, my job was to make sure we weren't found.  Camouflage is all about breaking up the straight lines and blending in to natural surroundings.  Years of sitting behind various desks (with an occasional moonlight chase thrown in for spice) qualified me to do some camouflage work on the tents.  I did the best I could but later training shows we'd have probably been more hidden and less comfortable in debris shelters.


We may have been there for a couple days before the gig was up.  While we were walking down the road sans packs carrying groceries to our hidden camp the forester drove by and scowled at us.  The scowl may have been from snapping his head around to glare at us.  We knew he'd be seeking us.  After delving once again into the forest and adding a few more touches to the camouflage a small yellow helicopter flew around looking for us.  Even at the fairly low altitude it flew we were pretty confident he couldn't find us.

He did.

To this day, I've no idea how it happened.  The day after the helicopter search he just appeared in the woods a large muscular barrel chested guy wearing a feathered cap and leiderhosen.  The leiderhosen are why I'm thinking this must have taken place in Bavaria.  Northern Germans would rather be caught without pants than in leiderhosen.

This red faced bull of a man just materialized from the woods carrying an absurdly large heavy tool - perhaps a tree snipper over one shoulder.  I remember thinking that a swing of that could probably crush my skull.

To our surprise, he was rather cool about our encroachment into his woods.

"I am responsible for these woods."  He told us in German.  Pointing, he said "But I am not responsible for those woods."

Rather than move our campsite we decided to just press on and head into East Germany.


Leiderhosen.


Eventually, we arrived at the imposing East German border.

Although I was trying to play it cool, I'm sure I was very nervous.  Probably was worried they'd start shouting "Du bist ein Spion!" (You are a spy!) and haul me off never to be seen again.   Just like today, it was very easy to be 'disappeared'.  At that time the guys doing it were the infamous East German Stasi.  They combined all of the best (worst) qualities of a ruthless Russian controlled secret police with the same German efficiency and attention to detail you get with the people who designed and crafted Porsche.

Those ass clenching moments at the border have slipped from my memories and my only other memory of East Germany is the 'tourist hotel'.

At that time, there was only one place we were allowed to stay.  The hotel for 'westerners'.  

When we first arrived, dirty and disheveled the disgusted old lady barked at us to leave our shoes near the door.  We were provided with fluffy slippers.  These were to be worn at all times within the shiny wooden floored building.

After the obligatory mountain of paper work, we were required to leave our passports with the front desk.   During those days you always had to leave the passport with the hotel.  I'm not sure what would happen if you were stopped in the streets and asked for your papers by the police - or the secret police.  I presume that although they knew you of course had to leave your passport with the hotel it would be a gravely illegal crime not to carry it on you at all times - punishable by a hefty fine and some time in a squalid prison full of burly men who think you have a pretty mouth.  For whatever reason leaving passports with the hotel is no longer done.  The only times I my current trip I've had to surrender my passport for an extended period of time were for sea voyages.  I presume they keep them not only to get them processed faster but to keep track of who all was lost while at sea.

We swished our way up to the room.  Not a lot of details remain in my mind other than by prearrangement we talked only either of banal things such as how much we liked East Germany or the weather while we all searched for listening devices.

We found five.

That was one of the things I've always liked about the USSR.  Heavy handed and not very competent.  Had these been hidden professionally, we wouldn't have found them without either electronics or ripping up the walls.  Having a 'bug' behind wall paper makes it really hard to find - even with the 1980's tech we had at the time.  Or the 1960's tech the Soviets had bothered to employ within this room.  Still, you can never tell who is listening.  Obviously, we left them all in place and were sure to have a conversation which would be a great read from a transcript.

In the morning, we had one of the finest breakfasts I've had to this day.  It was a stout German breakfast with the addition of fruits, breads and real honey.  That was the first time experiencing honey with the comb.  Which is much different than not only the honey sold in the stores in the USA but Honeycomb.
While in the DDR [Deutsche Demokratische Republik (German), the German Democratic Republic (English)] I was amazed.  Unlike pristine West Germany, Eastern Germany was a mess like river beds filled with trash and old tires.  There didn't seem to be any emission controls on vehicles so the air was so thick you had to hack a hole in it to breath.  Ugly, gray and depressing.  Stores with long lines and nothing on the shelves.

After they reunified, it took hundreds of billions of dollars (maybe has high as 850 billion) to fix up East Germany to get it closer to the level of West Germany though many people say it's not there yet.  (Note, as of 2013 Berlin looks great.)  That gives you some idea of just how fucked up the DDR had become from the end of World War 2 till the early 1990's.  Approximately 41 years of communism to completely trash the place.

When someone tells me about communism I can say I've seen the result.  It looks good on paper but the reality is something even vodka can't fix.

In the next exciting issue we move out of the DDR and onward.



LOGANISMS

I was talking to the owner of the hostel and told her I was sick of visiting countries of little people.

"Just once, I want to go to a country of huge, fat people that make me look anorexic.  I want to walk into a clothing shop with my head held high and ask for a shirt, size medium!"

She told me Samoa was very expensive.

I told her in America they have support groups for anorexics.  "I've always wanted to go to one and look very depressed and say 'I just feel fat'.  Possibly while eating donuts."

She said "You can cry too.  In Ecuador they have only support groups for alcoholics and drug users."

"What - to get more alcohol and drugs?  Sounds fine."



OH TIMMY

"When I was a kid I always wanted to grow up and become a train conductor or a gynecologist. I suppose thats because I really like tunnels."  - Tim

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

MIDGETS AND OTHER NICE THINGS

SOME THOUGHTS BEFORE WE GET INTO MIDGETS

I'm not really minding staying in Banos.  Despite the downsides (mostly noise related) the time seems to be passing at a decent rate.

My travel through Peru will probably be at a more rapid pace so sitting around for a bit doesn't seem so bad.

The well traveled Romanian friends have suggested several cities in Peru and much research has yet to be done, at least for a rough idea of the route. Sure, Machu Picchu would be an interesting place to visit but physically not sure if that's going to happen.  Plus the cost may be prohibitive.  From wikitravel, "Train tickets are probably the most expensive in the world (by km). A one way ticket from Ollantaytambo will set you back 55-80 USD and from Cuzco even more."  Plus permits to get into the park.  Plus incidentals.  So the question really comes down to, which would I rather have - $200+ dollars or be able to get the same picture as everyone else has posted on the internet (as presumably it is the only good view)?  Hum.  Probably the money.  We'll see if I get wealthy before I get there.  However, the four day hike sleeping in tents along the way option would probably kill me.


Other travelers always ask 'don't you miss friends, family and familiar surroundings'?  Nobody has an adventure at home.  Outside of children's books.  Rather than living in a mundane way, this is keeping my interest and - aside from an occasional monkey wrench thrown into the works is quite enjoyable.  I feel grateful for the opportunity to do it.

I mention this not to imply that I am living the best or 'correct' lifestyle - but hope that someone out there may say "If Logan can do that..."




MIDGETS

...Not to be overlooked...




....creepy...



SPANISH LESSONS

Welcome to another edition of "Logan's Spanish Lessons."

I while talking to a shopkeeper about the weather (I figured this out despite not knowing the word for it as hey, everyone talks about the fucking weather) he had mentioned the word "lindo".

When I got back to the hostel, I asked the lady who owns it "What does 'lindo' mean?"

She gave me an odd look as I stood there unwashed from the previous day and wearing a t-shirt that screamed "I just ate a messy meal".  I had.

"It means 'cute'.  Who called you lindo?"

I smiled and said "Nobody calls me lindo - they call me "el guappo"!  (Handsome.  Thank you "Three Amigos!")

She laughed.  Better than giving me the 'wtf' look and slowly shaking her head.

The lesson part:

The best way to remember the pronunciation is like "window" but with an "L" because only losers sit outside staring in and masturbating like a teen with a fast internet connection.  Or like superman floating outside Lois Lanes' high rise and shattering the window when he orgasms.

See?  Now it's stuck in your head.  Lindo.



ONCE UPON A TIME...

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it elsewhere in this blog so I'll take a little break from compulsively playing Minecraft and tell you a long winded rambling side trekking story.

This happened long, long ago.  Before some of you were born.  Which irritates Logan.

To properly imagine the scenes, I looked pretty much the same except my head had been put onto a thin body.  For those of you born in the 1990's on, I recommend imagining it all in black and white with or possibly as an 'olde timey silent movie'.

Back in the late 1980's, Logan was in the army doing...certain deeds.

After serving in Korea and Germany, I got out of the army while in Germany and went to work for the government as a civilian doing...well, more deeds.

I'd worked for years in military intelligence and sadly had enough of army life.  Little did I know that the civilian world would be much much worse on me.  Foolish, but I was in my early 20's and it seemed a good time to make a lot of stupid mistakes.

I got discharged from the army (honorably and on purpose) while in Munich Germany because I'd somehow found a job and a place to stay in an upstairs closet of a friend.  It wasn't literally a closet but I could reach nearly everything from the center.  This was just a crash place as in those days Germany was much more affordable as they were still on the Deutsche Mark instead of being some of the masters of Europe.

Like all of my memories, only fragments remain of my civilian job in intelligence.  It was another analyst job out of a small office created for some old foggie.  It was understood that the office would probably close if the chief ever retired or died.  It was some sort of weird retirement package for him.

If there was any serious work that went out of that office I was blissfully unaware of it.  What I remember was going out with my co-workers to an Italian place and being introduced to sambuca.  The way they taught me to drink it was to float a couple of un-crushed coffee beans then light it on fire.  Blow it out or drink it lit after just a few seconds of cooking the coffee beans.  The taste of black licorice with a hint of coffee is not one I'll soon forget.  Nor was passing out drunk on my desk when we returned to work.  Since I'd been drinking with my supervisor never a word was said about this though the drinking considerably lightened up during lunches after that.  Down to say three or so shots.  We were just coming out of the '80's when businessmen doing a couple lines of coke during lunch was not unheard of - and we were in Europe so doing several shots was pretty light.

The biggest thing to happen was November 9, 1989.

For those who don't know, that is when the wall separating Western Europe from the USSR came down.  Also known as 'the Berlin Wall'.  For those who have never seen it, here is a video.

It would be nice to claim we knew about it ahead of time.  Or suspected.  Or had a clue.  Just like intelligence agencies in later years would be caught flat footed by 9/11, we were stunned.

Little did I know this would set into motion plans drastically altering my future as well.

Meanwhile, a couple friends of mine had begun to plan a trip.  These were Roy aka 'Mustafa' and Hunter.  Roy was half Egyptian and very passionate about a lot of things.  He could speak Arabic, English and German fluently.  Roy was an entertaining guy with long hair that later Roy and I got so fed up with we seriously considered killing him.  Once I found out about it, I immediately invited myself along.  Yes, I was an annoying dickhead.  May still be.

There were two factors influencing my very radical decision to join them on their trip.

A huge influx of  Germans had swarmed into the country from the east, anxious to escape from the USSR bringing their families and whatever possessions could be found.  In those days, Germans would rather rent to Germans than 'auslanders' (foreigners).  Housing prices were going up very quickly and my German wasn't (still isn't) good enough to read a standard rental agreement.  Everything cheap was getting snatched up fast.  On top of that, the lady I who was allowing me to stay in her maid's room (the closet) was getting close to the end of her tour in Germany.  She would be leaving the country and I doubted the US Government would look kindly on me continuing to squat there.

It seemed that Germany was telling me it was time to go.

Outside of a trip to London, I had not traveled around outside of Germany at all for my close to three year stay.  My exposure to Europe had been very positive and more travel seemed very attractive.

The biggest concern my not so erstwhile traveling companions had was hitchhiking.  They were concerned it would be a lot more difficult with three people than two.  This was absolutely correct but eventually I talked them into having me along.

They had planned to go to what was still East Germany, through the USSR satellite countries, Greece and into Egypt and possibly more of Africa.

Having worked several years in army intelligence I wasn't sure if it was legal for me to even enter these hostile countries.  Figure it wasn't but it is always easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.  Well, not always.  Don't do that shit with women.

In my youth this seemed a bit like a covert mission, meaning that I probably blabbed it to everyone though I hope I was more discrete.  In addition to the very real possibility of my own government jailing me for 'defecting' to the east, there was quite a good possibility of getting picked up and imprisoned as a foreign spy.

The travel plans were exciting and had quite an element of personal danger.  I was in.

My first step was to grow a beard.  Not too difficult but I'd started to do it while still out processing from the military.  One of the best lies I'd ever told came out during this time.

While wandering around various classified secure rooms in civilian clothing and a scruffy beard, a master sergeant jumped me.  Within army ranks, their is no non-commissioned officer higher.  Anyone below a full bird colonel usually knows better than to fuck with this guy.

He hated me.

Actually, so did the guys that worked for him.  Something about me stealing one of their vehicles and joy riding in it a year earlier.  And me having gotten out of it, more from amazing luck than any cleverness on my part.

They were unforgiving.

The master sergeant either jumped out of hiding where he'd been lurking or I rounded a corner and unexpectedly met up with him.  My memory is a bit fuzzy.  He looked me up and down and barked "Are you in my army?"

Looking him dead in the eye, I squeaked "No master sergeant!"

"Carry on." he grumbled darkly and brushed past me.

It was fortunate I only had a couple more days left at that time.  Had he spotted the lie or checked into it, he could have happily sent me to cool my heels in military prison or leveled some fines against me.

And that was how I grew my beard.  Not a trimmed presentable beard - more of a shortened version of what wild eyed terrorists today sport.  Not suspicious at all.

But it distanced me from the military look.  Short haired clean shaven thin people often scream 'military'.  Today, I still have two of the three.

So preparations began in earnest for my trip through Europe and into Africa.

In my mind, Africa has always been synonymous with horrible disease so a trip to the doctor was called for.  Unfortunately, it was an army doctor.  These are typically not at the top of their field but giving shots is not a hard thing.  For the doctor.

Clearly, he didn't get the full details of the trip, just that I'd be visiting unspecified countries in Africa.

The doctor was a Texan complete with the pronounced accent.   One of the things I had to be inoculated against was bubonic plague.

"Uh - wasn't that the whole 'Black Death' thing that went on in the 14th century?"

"Yes it was!" smiled the doctor, brandishing the biggest most horrifying needle I've seen to this day.

"And they still have that in Africa?"

"Yes, they do!"

He had me drop my pants and clutch the table.  I felt a snap on my ass and thought "Oh, that's not so bad" and loosened up.

He then plunged a javelin into my ass and injected a gallon of cement.

The sneaky bastard had snapped his fingers against my butt and tricked me.

"Now that wasn't so bad, was it?" he drawled.

Feeling violated, I limped out of the office.  Chairs were optional for the next couple of days.

After getting the last inoculations I've ever had it was time to buy gear.  I shake my head at the three decades ago Logan wondering what the hell was going through his head.

The crap I purchased weighed about 40 KG.  For those living in countries stuck in archaic measurements it's over eighty pounds.  Fortunately, I was young and strong but it was still amazingly stupid to carry so much stuff.  Unneeded, silly stuff better suited to extended camping out, which to be fair we did do some of but not enough to justify all the crap I had.  Elaborate first aid kit.  Nestled pots and pans.  Just silly stuff.  A couple days ago I spoke with two 'ultra light' travelers.  With sleeping bags and tents their packs weigh only ten kilos.  Even my current pack was both of theirs together.  They thought it was a lot until I mentioned it was my home and everything I owned.

But the twenty year old Logan had too much shit he was carrying and a slim thousand or two of funds.

Next installment - East Germany and beyond.

Friday, December 13, 2013

BANOS AND PUYO

BANOS REPORT

Note it is a partial report as I've spent all my time in Banos.  After my money situation eventually gets sorted, I am planning on going to towns nearby.

For those who don't know, one of my readers expressed an interest in perhaps expatriating to Ecuador some day so I looked around with that in mind.

Politics:  The last four presidents got ousted and took off with a bunch of money before they finally came up with one that not only stuck around without taking off with government funds but who seems pretty popular.  Just because this president is good doesn't mean the next one will be so perhaps renting for a few years might be better than immediately purchasing property.  Just in case.

Property:  Depending on where you buy it there is a huge range of costs.  For some reason, Banos is cheap to rent places but freakishly expensive to purchase them.  I have no idea why that is.  Also, there is a big fucking volcano nearby so this gives banks pause in lending money to buy property here.  They will, I'm told, make loans for improvements.  This is odd.  As of three years ago at the time of this writing (2013) volcanoes have gone off so it's not like getting a nice property near Pompeii.   [For those without knowledge of history and too inept to use Google, that seems to have been AD 79.  The cynical may think this just means 'it's due'.]

People:  I'd put people's friendliness within the top ten of the countries I have visited.  [As of the time of this writing, approximately 40 countries.]   You will need to learn Spanish as finding people who speak English outside (and even  often inside) tourist areas is uncommon.  Fortunately, Spanish is so easy, even Logan can learn it.  That's easy.  Also, I like the people of Banos.  They seem to have 'civic pride' and keep their town clean - something that is not seen in many of the countries to which I've recently been.

Crime:  Comparing murder rates, Ecuador is much higher than your native country of Canada, but where isn't?  Well, actually that's a long list.  I'd read that the murder rate here is half of what it is in the USA however Wiki says this is a lie.  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate]   The police here seem fairly friendly and helpful rather than in Ukraine where you are expecting them to shake you down for a bribe.

Education:  I'm not sure how old your children are or if you will need to send them to schools here or if you are waiting to expat when you and your husband are old.  Like Logan.  The schools here seem fairly abysmal and underfunded.  Much like my native country.  The good news is that here, private tutors are totally affordable.

Economy/Prices:  Pretty cheap.  Living in a private room (hotel style though it's at a hostel), eating out every meal, smoking and drinking rum nightly I'm spending under $30 USD a day.  That's another nice thing, you get to use USD.   The local currency was seen as too unstable so they just use dollars.  Easy.  Since the Canadian dollar is roughly equivalent to the US dollar [at the time of this writing nearly 1 to 1] you will have no problems figuring out the actual price for things without the need to convert.  There is one important caveat to this however and that is electronics.  Before you leave the land of Canada
Picture above, Toronto during rush hour.

it is important to stock up on anything electronic you will need and understand that your choices in the future will be paying double (or more) for technology that is woefully outdated or going  the hell somewhere else to purchase it.  On the good side, getting around via public bus (moderately comfortable) is dirt cheap - about a dollar per hour of drive time.

Climate:  Though I've not yet experienced the entire country, I've been told that traveling anywhere you can be in a totally different climate within a few hours.  Personally, I like the climate of Banos.  In the day time it is nice and warm - maybe even a bit hot - in the day time and cool enough at night to sleep with all the windows closed and blankets on the bed.  During the winter it rains a bit more but not like the rainy season in SE Asia.  Assuming you have an umbrella it is nothing to worry about.  As Canadians, you may feel like you are missing snow but this feeling will pass as you admire pictures of famous Canadian hockey players on the internet.

The shocking example above is known as 'Canadian Porn' and is a picture of Wayne Gretzky.

Public Services:  Unlike places like Nepal, the government hasn't shut off the electricity for several hours a day due to incompetency.  In fact, in the month plus [as of the time of this writing] I've been here, there has never been a power outage.  The internet has been off so briefly that it is easily discounted.  There are only two strange things about the services within this country.  First is that you can't flush your toilet paper down the toilet.  I have no clue as to why this is.  Could it be small pipes?  Not enough water pressure?  Strange recycling?  I have no idea.  But you get to toss your used toilet paper into a bucket and save it.  It is disgusting.  Can't imagine a lot of people get into 'dumpster diving' as a result.  The second thing is there is no assigned 'trash day'.  Due to the 'maƱana' attitude of all the Spanish speaking countries I've been to they don't have a schedule.  Instead, the trash truck drives around playing a strange tune and when you hear it you grab your trash and go out to meet them.  Weird but it seems to work.

My overall impression of Ecuador is very positive.



PUYO SHOPPING

I traveled to Puyo to look for pants.  The Ecuadorians don't seem to like my 'wrap pants' and I dislike wearing things that draw too much attention.

Before heading there, I'd been warned repeatedly that Puyo is much more hot and humid than Banos.  After I'd stressed a couple times that I've not only lived through the hot and humid south east Asia but also lived in several deserts, people relented.  Puyo is a bit more hot than Banos but I failed to pass out from heat stroke during my brief visit.

The bus dropped me off at a bus stop which seemed to be well outside of town - or in the middle of the countryside.  Fortunately, there were several taxis nearby and the charge was only a dollar for the fifteen or twenty minute ride.  I suspect New Yorkers would slit each others throats to get that kind of deal.

The taxi driver dropped me in front of a red store selling clothing.  They didn't have what I wanted so I wandered around trying to find clothing in 'extra American fat' size.  Subsequent stores kept sending me back to the red colored store.

I'd even managed to find a tailor but for some reason in this country they only make suits.  I could get a pair of suit pants for $30-$40 but not only would they clash with the sun bleached t-shirts I wear but they'd wear out pretty quickly.  Getting someone to make something cheap out of more rugged cloth seems impossible.  This is confusing because the tailor shop was not only empty but there was no evidence of any projects in the works.  No business is better than the 'wrong sort' I suppose.

Being in Puyo made me grateful I'm staying in Banos.

Since traveling, I've seen plenty of 'no personality' cities.  Were you to remove all of the people from Puyo and replace them with Thais or Cambodians, the city would look just like any of the 'no personality' cities there.

Puyo seems to be mostly a marketplace - and not a very good one for Logan.

It is interesting just how far behind their computer stuff is.

At the time of this writing, a quick search on Amazon shows I can buy 32 GIG drives for about $20.  Proudly displayed on the shelves of Puyo were 4 GIG drives.  Quite a difference.  [Yes, I realize 4 GIG drives are also available on Amazon.  Not sure what kind of insane person buys those.]

Eventually I became convinced there were not enough fat Ecuadorians to warrant anything like a 'big and tall' store and having grown tired of pawing through the bins of 'Salvation Army' used clothing I set off walking.

The only restaurants in town seemed to be Ecuadorian.  Since I have the same opinion of the local food here as I do Cambodian (it is not something I look forward to but will happily eat it if I am starving to death) I kept my eyes open for any kind of foreign restaurant.  Since it was a few minutes before noon and lightning has a habit of striking dead anyone who opens their restaurant for business before noon, nothing was open.

Fuck it.  I can wait until returning to Banos to eat.

Turns out the route I'd picked by chance was in the direction of the bus station so I just kept walking.

Like all bus stations everywhere in the world, this one was built on the most beautiful of land so that the town could be showcased in the best light for new arrivals.  Or the opposite.

So, I got back on the $2 bus for an hour and a half sixty kilometer ride through roads clinging to the mountains.  Tufts of cotton clouds dotted the mountains as did fields built onto steep enough surfaces that the sight of a farmer tumbling by would take no one buy surprise.





PRICES

Taxi, $1

Approximately 250-300 ml of juice, $1.75.  (Why it is almost double the taxi fare I have no clue).

Map, free.




Monday, December 2, 2013

SOUP RANT

THE BIG THANK YOU

Got a great double hitter (so to speak) on Monday.  Bob Bloom came through on getting me some cash so I transferred him some of the Paypal money I'd received as donations.  Because I don't like relying on just one plan when death is on the line my buddy Bert also had some of the other donations sent via Western Union.

Both came in like champs.

Now, I just have to get my actual credit card so I can stop worrying all together.  Once my secondary (Paypal) credit card gets here (probably much later) then I will have a backup plan in case this sort of thing happens in the future.

So I would like to thank the half dozen people who gave donations via paypal.

Thank you very much, you saved my ass.

I appreciate it.

Yes, of course I bought the people who run the hostel a big box of chocolates for putting up with my shit.  Of course.



SOUP

Those who know me well know that I have long been deeply cynical and suspicious of soup.

It's not a drink yet it can't get up the gumption to be solid food.  So it's playing at both yet being neither.  Unless you are stuck in Ukraine or a country that serves borscht you can probably at least claim you got a hot meal.  Or a hot beverage.  Well, it was hot anyway.   Who knows whether it was a very thin meal or a really thick beverage.

Doubly suspicious am I of 'foreign' soups.  There could be ANYTHING in there.  Also, there are often bones hidden in the soup.  They claim it's for the flavor but I think it's more of the 'laziness of soup'.  You can't tell about dodgy ingredients in soup the way you could in solid foods.

I have found one place which warrants a passing grudging respect of their soup.  It is this place.  I'd tell you the name but who the hell knows what it is?
You can tell it's a place that makes soups if they can't be bothered to repair their sign, right?



HOW TO BE LOGAN

So Bob Bloom shows up to the hostel and wants to turn in his laundry to get cleaned, the way I do.

They tell him to take it to a laundry place and recommend one.

After four different trips and tries, he finally gets his laundry turned in to a place.

He's talking to me trying to figure out why I seem to get special dispensation for different things - like just give my laundry to the desk and they get it taken care of for no extra charge.

I don't want to say "Because I'm Logan" in my "Because I'm Rick James, bitch" voice.  That sounds pretty conceited.

I suppose I could talk about expectations, troubling to learn everyone's name and having a chat with them (so far as my language skills allow), being honestly interested in other people and stuff like that - but it seems like I'd almost be trying to teach a class on human interaction.

Felbrigg came up with the best short one liner to explain it:  "Friends do favors".

ALL HAIL FELBRIGG!

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster

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