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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.

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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 | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap |

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