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Thursday, January 30, 2014

ROUND THE WORLD IN ACHING DAYS

MR LOGAN'S WILD RIDE

Last night I glanced at my computer clock and said "Oh my god, I've only got an hour and a half till my flight!"

Hate leaving at 2:30AM.  It's a dodgy time that shouldn't exist.

First step, go wake the house.  I need a taxi right the hell now!  The cleaner summoned the owner who hurried off to get a cab.  "Rapido!" I pleaded.

I began tossing stuff into my bags.  No time to do it right - just make sure to get everything!

The cab showed up in record time just as I had finished filling my bags.

Quickly thanking them I rushed out and tossed my stuff in the back.  "Aeropuerto!  Mucho rapido por favor!"  (Note - the next few parts of the conversation were in Spanish - I'm putting it as English for ease of reading.)

We got in and started heading to the airport.  "An extra 10 sols to get me there very fast!"

He was into it and we were going very fast.

At this point, I realized my passport and money were still hidden under the bed back at the hostel.  "I'm stupid!  We have to go back!  My passport!"

We called the hostel and he talked to the owner.  I told her where my passport was and to please get it and meet us out front.

"OK - double the normal fare, 60 sols, fast back to the hostel and then to the airport!"

In the 1970's, you could tell how fast a car was going when a hubcap would suddenly shoot off while it was doing a turn.  We were going that fast in his rickety old station wagon.   He was, however, out of hubcaps.

We squeeled up in front of the hostel and the sleepless owner thrust my passport case at me.  I gave her 10 sols for the trouble and we raced back into the night.

Nearly biting the back of the seat in frustration I watched as we slowed only for speed bumps.  Running red lights nearly got us into a few accidents.   Were the police more watchful we'd have gotten busted for sure.

Squeeled up in front of the airport.  Paid the courageous driver.  Grabbed my shit.  Rushed to the front entrance.  You've got to show your passport at the door to get in.  There was some other customer there who seemed to be having problems with this concept.

"I'm late!" I roared and thrust my passport into the hands of the guard.  He looked at it to make sure I was the correct gringo from the picture then waved me through.

There was the counter and two people older than dust.  They were moving at the usual speed of old people - the death shuffle.

"I'm late!" I roared at them and thrust my paperwork at the surprised attendant.

She took a close look at my paperwork.

"Your flight isn't until tomorrow."

Blink.

"Pardon?"

"Today is the twenty-sixth.  Your flight is on the twenty-seventh.  Come back tomorrow at this time.  Or earlier."

"Er...  Are you sure?"  At this point I began thinking back to my earlier bottle of wine just before realizing the time.  All is not lost - I could still blame it on my computer.

When I mentioned perhaps I could just stay at the airport to avoid the shame of going back, she told me to go get some sleep.  She called the hostel for me to let the beleaguered owner know I would be back.  And they all had a good laugh as I smiled weakly, the adrenaline still chugging through me.

After stupidly spending about $35, the owner of the hostel gave me a free water - as a type of consolation prize I suppose.



TRIP HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD

After (again) leaving the most quiet place in Lima, Casa Ana, I went to the airport.

The correct time, this time.

After endlessly waiting for the counter to open, other tourists and I were presented with the "Floor Show of Ineptitude".

They have movable posts with retractable red ribbons.  Retractable queue barriers.
We watched an employee trying to set it up.  She couldn't figure it out and kept moving them to different areas.  To make it worse, she had a diagram of where they were suppose to go.  After trying and failing for fifteen or twenty minutes, she decided to consult with what I refer to as the 'brain trust'.  Sadly, they couldn't figure it out either.  We watched and quietly mocked a succession of no less than five inept people working alone or in groups fail.

Eventually, the people who were suppose to open the desk showed up and put things to right.

At the counter was the same lady I'd met up with previously.

Today, the tickets being one way bothered her.  "Do you live in Ukraine?"

At this point, I began wildly inventing.  "Yes!"

"Do you have your residence card?"

"Not on me,  it's there."  In my mind, I began to assemble a wild house of cards and figure out tricky ways of using the language barrier to the best of my ability.  She went and spoke to a college and they decided it would be in the best interest of the continent to expel me from South America.

At this point, I was told I'd need to pay the 'escape this shitty airport' tax of $31 USD.  In USD.  Naturally, I'd already exchanged my remaining Peruvian Sols for Euros since I had a stop in Frankfurt.

Fortunately since I am suspicious, paranoid, jaded and experienced I always carry some small dollar notes on me.  I would now be permitted to begin a grueling series of flights connected with debilitating layovers.

I'm actually more nervous about going through all of the airports with their bureaucracy than heading to a country which the news paints as 'teetering on revolution'.  TSA and airport staff - worse than revolution.  Certainly after all of the indignities and inconvenience the TSA and airports put you through some people must find the plane simply blowing up to be a relief.

At this point, my normal self fell into an extremely disorganized role.  It seemed as though I was attempting to hide papers from myself I'd just looked at but needed to reference again.  Despite chaos attempting to trip me up, I ended up in...

...the Dominican Republic?


Stay tuned!



FICTIONAL STORY (not meant to be a religious debate)

Describe Heaven.  Most reading that sentence have either glazed over it or believe they can and it's not even worth stopping to think about.  This is not so.  Even the Bible, which I had been brought up as a child in the Roman Catholic faith to believe is surprisingly vague on it.   All that I recall was in John 14:2 "In my father's house are many rooms."   This is not helpful.  The scriptures are about how to get into Heaven but what is it like?

Vague things are brought up.  That's where you will be reunited with your mother, father and old friends - unless they were wicked and went to Hell.  This tells you nothing.  Long after I had died they began saying things like 'reunited with the source'.  Nobody knows.

Contrast this with Hell.  Even when I was alive, the 'Divina Commedia' - later called the 'Divine Comedy' - had been around for close to five hundred years.  So exacting and gruesome were it's descriptions of Hell that everyone was terrified.  Everyone wanted to go to Heaven - anything is better.  Later, I was given the same choice.

Although I had begun working at the age of five and had begun to produce notable work by the age of fourteen, money always fled from me.  I had squandered it on lavish living.  Perhaps one of the people I had borrowed money from had poisoned me.

My wife and two sons had just left the room when the man with the odd spectacles appeared.  He was wholly unremarkable and appeared as a common laborer might complete with a somewhat paunchy stomach.  Indeed, the only remarkable thing about him were his large darkened spectacles.  He locked the door and pulled a chair near.

The thought that he might be here to murder me filled me not with dread but relief as it would end the pain, swelling and vomiting which had afflicted me for the last week.

The man spoke my native German, but he spoke slowly, deliberately and would often mispronounce words and would hesitate for several moments before answering any question.  It were as though he was not wholly familiar with German and was reading it.  Indeed this was the case.

"You are going to feel a small hurt.  Then you will feel better.  This so we may talk short time."

I barely felt the prick upon my arm but almost immediately, I felt well enough to converse and even managed to sit up.

"Short time last.  We must talk private.  If you call help, I leave."

My throat was still stinging from the last time I had vomited but I managed to croak "Who are you?"

"I am the choice man.  You have choice.  You may die normally.  Or you may live.  If you live you must come with me.  Never again see wife.  Sons.  Friends.  Familiar.  Nothing.  But you may choose."

Even though his garbled German, I believed his accent to be English.  My success in Vienna could have spread to England now.  It would have been much simpler toinvite me to England rather than this elaborate poisoning plot.

"Who would choose death?" I whispered.

He frowned at me before responding.

"Many."  He leaned forward and looked at me through his large dark spectacles.

Within I could see my wasted, shriveled body.  I've always been small and fair before but now I looked like a white ghost.  He seemed oddly melancholic as he stared at me.  It seemed that he had the unenviable task of offering me two poor choices.

"Is life a good choice?"

He rubbed the stubble on his chin, considering his answer.

"It is only a..." and then he said a word I could not understand.  Eventually he managed to to sound it out and the word became 'erweiterung' - extension.

Because I feared the stick of death, the carrot of life seemed better.  There was another prick in my arm.  As blackness took me, I wondered if I would ever finish my Requiem.



LOGAN'S VOYAGE INTERVIEW

Today we are interviewing Logan of "Logan's Voyage".  Logan, welcome to the show.

"Am I getting paid for this?"

"No."

"Shit."

"Now Logan, what makes your blog different from the other travel blogs?"

"Mine is hopefully less dull.  Most people's blogs are pics of nice things they've seen.  With them in front of it.  Stuff I could find on the internet and photoshop the person in front of it.  The sites aren't what gets you - it's the stories."

"Could you give us an example?"

"Sure.  If a guy goes up to Manchu Picchu and takes a bunch of pictures, nobody cares.  Everyone has seen pictures of them.  But if he sexually satisfies a donkey on the way up or has pictures taken of him dry humping artifacts thousands of years old, it is more interesting."

"I see...  What else makes your blog different?"

"Honesty.  Most of the travel writers and TV personalities you get to see being slick.  They have teams of people who set up everything ahead of time.  You don't get to hear about them in a drunken panic driving pell mell to the airport to catch a plane that isn't until tomorrow.  You get to see them wandering around.   Being all slick.  With budgets.  Getting paid for wandering around.  Hate them so much..."

"Logan!  Logan!  Snap out of it!"

"Oh - was I talking about humor?"

"Obviously not.  And that concludes our interview with Logan of "Logan's Voyage"!  We hope that it encourages you to go traveling but not do any of the things he does."

"Except sexually satisfy donkeys."

"Shut up.  And that's all for now.  Back to our regularly scheduled viewing."

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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

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