Showing posts from April, 2010

Lost Luggage Rev 1

The air in the hangar was stale and musty. Large metal racks filled the space, and on each shelf sat a bag of some sort, with the paper destination tags sticking out from thousands of handles. Metal cases, that looked like the luggage common to rock n roll types, filled an entire section near the back. Golf bags and surfboards peeked out from behind a pile of sleeping bags, tents and folded baby strollers. An entire aisle was filled with soft sided luggage and on the bottom those older bags that forced the owners to sit on top and tie a strap around the bag to keep it shut. A line of people formed early in the morning – even before daybreak. Some with folding chairs, some sitting or snoozing directly on the blacktop. Many had driven for hours, even overnight, for a chance to bid on the unclaimed luggage. This was the last stop, before the end of the road, for the well worn sweats of the backpacker heading home after 6 months on the road. The torn and stained tee-shirts and s

The Shirt Rev 2

White bear’s mother was slumped over a tanned deer hide and using a dull pocket knife he had found on the ground outside that tourist souvenir store, to cut the pattern for a shirt for his first day at school. She hoisted herself off the ground with one arm until she could pull her feet into the proper position to stand. It was getting harder to move when she sat for any length of time. She crossed the wooden floor and gazed out through the doorless entrance to their home. She went into the corner where a straw mattress sat directly on the floor, with pieces sticking through the worn fabric in random patterns. She lifted up a corner near her corn-filled pillow and pulled out out a framed box with a small latch on the short side at the bottom. She slid it open with the thumb of her left hand while her right hand held it steady so the precious contents wouldn’t fall out, and be lost through a crack in the floor. Returning to her sewing she carefully placed the open box on the floor

Sorting Mail Rev 1

How in the world did I get so fat, he thought as the alarm went off across the room. He rolled off the bed disturbing his cat who had been contentedly snoozing on the pillow next to him. He waddled into the bathroom, sorry again that he was not paying attention when he rented this apartment and didn’t notice that there was only a bathtub and no shower. Running late again. Sagging under his weight, the Plexiglas bathtub made a cracking sound as he sat on the edge of the tub. This is going to cost me when I move out. I’ll probably lose my deposit. He looked around for the soap and remembered he had used up the last of it yesterday- and that he had no clean towels. He grabbed a damp musty towel from the corner of the floor and patted the mildew smell all over this body. My allergies are acting up- I wonder why he thought as he headed back into the bedroom. He slipped into the underwear and shorts he wore yesterday, and pulled on a clean tee shirt from the closet. I hope Sally ma

The Volunteer Rev 1

Adam was on disability so he couldn’t work a normal job, but he hated sitting at home all day watching TV or playing games. Two years ago he found out about a program that offered volunteer opportunities at local non-profits. When he was a little boy, before his parents were killed in the crash that changed his life forever, he lived on a farm in the backcountry with horses, cows, and chickens, as well as a motley crew of rescued dogs and cats that his mom seemed to attract. Adam just turned 18 and was living in a group home with his friends. He pulled on his shorts and a clean tee shirt and put on his “dog walking” shoes before grabbing an apple to eat on the bus on his way to the animal shelter in a neighboring town. Good Morning Buddy the bus driver said as he stepped up to the pass reader. My name is not Buddy, it’s Adam. They both laughed and he continued on to his seat. He had been riding this bus for years, and they had the same conversation every time, like they both w

A Small Room Rev 1

The smell of bleach the strong antiseptic chemical smell assaults me as I enter the storeroom. Old dirty mops crusted with sand and dog hair line the walls. A whisk broom- with missing teeth and an old plastic dustpan sit on a shelf blanketed by the dust of disuse. A few rusty paint cans are stacked up near the door- the lids in various stages of engagement. The utility sink reeks of the men’s room on the other side of the wall, the pipes hanging on to the memories of earlier visitors. A mouse runs in the door behind me and disappears into its shelter hidden behind the trash in the corner. A spider web surprises me as I head towards a small table at the back, my oasis during a hectic day. I sit back in the old office chair which scoots backwards as I touch it, just an inch or two, but enough to remind me that it is on wheels and I need to be careful and remain aware when embraced by the rickety arms. A barren lightbulb hangs from the vaulted ceiling but there is enough soft light fr

Out of Cash Out of Town Rev 1

This was the last bank where he had an account. His credit cards were maxed out, and his mortgage company had frozen his line of credit. His only assets were in a jar on his dresser- change and tips from his last job- probably $100 at most.  He turned his back on the ATM which had refused his advances. He focused on going somewhere, anywhere where he might find a solution to his current dilemma. A truck screeched to a halt barely missing him. The driver, an older man with 40 years experience slumped over the steering wheel. A small boy on the opposite side of the street ran up to the truck door and attempted to open it but couldn’t reach the handle. He dropped back to the ground and tried to get the attention of the young guy who had just left the ATM across the street. The guy ignored him and continued walking as if he hadn’t heard the boy's cry for help. A teenage girl came jogging up the street, running in place and distracted by the music on her iPod, waiting for the s

A walk in the High Atlas Rev 2

The trees created a dense cover overhead and the clay surface on either side of the pathway was lined with scrubby bushes and large rocks. I was at the bottom of a steep hillside just past the simple clay open fronted structures that housed the tourist shops of the village. Two young men approached from the pathway ahead calling out “Bonjourno, Buenos Dias, and Hello! I’d guess they were maybe in their 20s, with gorgeous skin and eyes, dressed in traditional long Berber robes.I didn’t pay much attention to men’s footwear at all during this visit other than to note the snake charmers sitting around in stocking feet, and it seemed like all the the other local men were wearing bedroom slippers. “Do you need a guide to the kasbah, to the castle at the top of the hill? There is an Englishman, you can have tea. Only 100 dirham. “ “Where do you come from?” the younger one said. The second boy got ready to repeat the question over, if necessary, in any number of familiar visitor tongues.

marrakech to barcelona

4/15the beginning of the end I wake up around 5am because I have packed my watch with the jewelry so it is at the bottom of the bag and will require repacking. I lay there trying to somehow psychically predict the current time, in a room that is pitch black with only the sounds of a few birds chirping. I have to go to the loo, so I get up and take care of business. Then I decide I better figure out what time it is or I will lie here awake when I could be sleeping. I am afraid that the riad owners will sleep in. Obviously I have a control issue, being without an alarm clock is fine until it’s time to catch planes. Once I locate the watch, and plug in the computer to charge for the journey, it is about 5:30 so I lie down again for a few minutes until I hear the knock knock on my door. Funny, Moroccans kiss 3 times, and Italians twice in greeting. French I think twice also. Wonder why. I jump into the shower, or rather hobble into the shower area, and clean myself for the day ahead

Final night in Morocco heading for barcelona

4 14 10 Marrakech I slept in this morning a little later, most of my clothes are disgusting now. Tonite I figure out what to throw away and what to keep. I go up to breakfast and meet Jamila’s French friend who is a travel agent in Belgium Francesca, and who wil accompany Jamila on her caravan du livre on the 21st. Francesca speaks English pretty good. She helps me communicate with Roselyne about getting to the airport in the morning. They will knock to wake me up at 6:30 and we leave for the airport at 7. My flight is at 9am to Barcelona. Francesca tells me that we (the Italians, the proprietors of the riad, and me will go to Jamila’s mothers home for dinner tonite at half past six. The Italians will bring gifts of sweets, the riad people flowers, and I will bring good cream for her mothers face and hands made from arjan oil. I assume I can find this in a pharmacie which are very easy to find, but close down mid day. I carry the item Malika gave me upstairs to see if Francesca kn

last nite travelers checks and the medina

4/12 where I left off- After a little while I made my way back down using a different route, and my instinct that I could just head downhill and hit the village was right on, I followed a different path that is used more by the locals then the tourists and it was much easier. Kids were getting out of school; I saw lots of them in front of me with backpacks, doing normal kid things. I saw the guy again that told me to come back after the mountain. I told him I had only 50 dirham (about $8 US) but he sold me a pretty great necklace for that – saying it was good challah (sp) for his store. He told me there was a Californian named Alex from the Peace Corps working in the village near the top of the mountain on irrigation. Helping the local people. I left him and went into another shop also telling him I had nothing but traveler’s checks. He decided that was good enough with my passport number and a business card, and so I spent $150 US in this little shop and got 2 necklaces silver

New friends cooking day, visit to atlas mountains

April 11 7:00pm approximately. The Italian group invites me to join them for a snack. Roselyne walks us to a local café, and we look at the menu. I decide to get a petit salade Caesar with poulet marinee (Caesar salad with chicken) and drink water. Others ask for various baguettes. The waiter takes our order and disappears, bringing a bottle of water and two glasses. Then he returns again and tells us no pain, no poulet. No bread no chicken. This is a very small place. Then we look at menu again, and there is some discussion in Italian about the safety of eating lettuce greens and vegetables that may be washed in water that is not clean. I contributed that Roselyne had recommended this place so it must be OK but I could not take responsibility if anyone got sick. Many warnings in Lonely planet guide, everyone says don’t drink anything but bottled water, peeled fruit, some question about milk and cream. So far I am OK and I have eaten twice in small cafes and in the riad. Anyw