Dash from East to West

September 3

“Park it behind the Rolls Royce,” the man says.  Thirty minutes later with paperwork in hand I walk to the train station leaving Tania in a lot full of brand new Rolls’s, Aston Martins, Land Rovers, and Jaguars all waiting to make the crossing to New York City.  It is a strange feeling. I know I will collect her in a few short weeks and continue to make my way to Denver, but the last miles abroad (for now) are finished.  I did not accomplish what I set out to do on this adventure by half.  Though to be fair, many of my expectations and plans were unrealistic, if for no other reason, sheer ignorance.  The beauty of that ignorance was all the blank spaces I had to fill, things to learn, and learning I did constantly.  I cannot and will not relate all of the knowledge I have gleaned from 28 months on the road, much is probably esoteric, some is personal, a lot is inexplicable (by me, at least) and some is a mystery until a circumstance arises and I have a flash of brilliance from a past experience.  I will share one nugget, a gem, I picked up along the way.  Saying ‘thank you’.  Here it is in every language I have learned it in (if it is in italics I have put it in an English alphabet approximation).  Merci, danke, dank u wel,  gracias, obrigado, eskerrik asko, shukran, dankie, faleminderit, hvala, Благодаря, zikomo, děkuji, kiitos, grazie, благодарам, mulțumesc, Дякую, Хвала вам, kea leboha, Ďakujem, asante, enkosi, ngiyabonga, jairejef, meda zo ase, aw ni che, yewo, emitekati, a houanu, murakoze, webale, kooshukhuru, mpuus barka, dunamiert.   Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way or just shared their life with me.

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Street scene in L’viv, Ukraine

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One corner of Rynok Square (Площадь Рынок), L’viv, Ukraine (Львів, Україна)

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Some of the unique and sometimes very bright Ukrainian Orthodox churches in rural Ukraine

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Out for a walk near Rohozna – Brezinky, Slovakia

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This was the ‘way’ Garmin took me on.  Bucket list item #546 complete.  Drive through a field of wheat.  Slovakia

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This Disney castle was an accidental find, I even had to go back and look at the signs to figure out where I was.  Bojnice, Slovakia

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Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

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Sitting on the river with a cold Budweiser…must be summer.  Southern Bohemia, Czech Republic

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When faced with the decision whether or not to drive through the Alps, this is the answer.  Austria

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Best border crossing in a while.  I think its someone’s driveway.  Leaving Österreich for the Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

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Bavarian Six Pack, Germany

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It is almost grape smashing time in the Alsace. Riquewihr, France

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Douaumont Ossuary, a French memorial and cemetery for French and colonial soldiers that died in the Battle of Verdun during World War I.  The Muslim graves are Moroccan and Senegalese soldiers that fought and died along side the French.  Douaumont, France

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Looking down on the American cemetery in Belleau with the Bois de Belleau (Belleau Wood) behind me.  Belleau, France.

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The old city center in Strasbourg, France

So what does Fight Gravity mean?  The ‘Gravity’ I speak of is a force of nature, though not the one caused by the planet’s mass; it is a metaphor for the fear of the unknown.  It surrounds me as gravity does, always present, pressing upon me but often ignored during my daily life.  The fight, of course, is my challenge to wipe that fear away, to bring light to the dark ignorant corners of my mind and perceptions.  Fear is a bad motivator, a bad adviser and it hates logic, reason, and facts. “Remove the terror of the unknown, give a thing meaning, call it home, and you can see all the grace inherent in it.” – Jennifer Foehner Well.  I want to be fearless.

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Thanks to Bartek Szydlowski at Hostel Polako in Trebinje, BiH for this picture.

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Përshëndetje, Shqipëri (or Hello, Albania) and ‘broken’ promises.

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August 4th         Trip Odometer: 55,150.7 Miles    Above: The Valbonë River, Northern Albania

Let’s just cut to the good stuff.

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The Mosque at night, Prizren, Kosovo

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The Albanian Alps in the Valbonë Valley.

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Shkodër, Albania

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In the clouds on the Llogara Pass on the Albanian Riviera

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“Fall seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb. Near Gjipe Beach, Albania

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Himarë, Albania

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Vjosë River in Southern Albania

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That is how you fight a war, flip flops, machine guns, and the guy leading the charge is brandishing a liquor bottle.  The Great Albanian Bar Fight for Independence

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Boardwalk along Lake Ohrid, Ohrid, Macedonia

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Crystal clear water of Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

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Church of St. John at Kaneo, Ohrid, Macedonia

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Ohrid, Macedonia

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A good mix of ancient Macedonia and weird Yugoslavian architecture.  The only city fountain capable of blasting off into space. Bitola, Macedonia

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Old Town Bitola, Macedonia

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Founded in the 10th century, but the bulk of the buildings were constructed between the 12th and 14th century.  Rila is still a working monastery housing dozens of monks and thousands of documents and scripts.  Rila Monastery at the ‘Roof of the Balkans’, Bulgaria

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Sunset near Rila, Bulgaria

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The Ancient Theater built during the 2nd Century by the Romans, still in use today.  Plovdiv, Bulgaria

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What do motorbikers do when they meet around the world…talk about motorbikes.  MotoCamp Bulgaria, Idlelivo, Bulgaria.  Photo Credit: Mickey Bergin.  Whose adventure, along with his lady friend Katie, you should check out.  UK to New Zealand on AJP 250cc bikes.  Trails to the Forgotten

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The very grand and very strange Buzludzha Monument, commemorating the events in 1891 when socialists gathered to form what became the Bulgarian Social Democrat Party (later Communist Party).  Middle of nowhere, Bulgaria

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Last days in Bulgaria at a Moto Sabor (motorcycle rally).  Some friends and I swept the contest for ‘Furthest Travel to the Rally’ (2nd, I think, for me).  We are still unsure as to how the rider coming from Germany beat out the rider from South Africa, but no matter, we shared all the winnings anyway…11 liters of cheap Bulgarian beer.  Ribaritsa, Bulgaria

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Somewhere in Bulgaria it become painfully obvious that my rear shock was finished.  What to do, what to do?!  After a night of soul searching and inspections I decided to ignore the problem, for now.  But I made a promise, no more dirt roads, take it easy.  Within 48 hours I broke that promise, sorry Tania…hello Romania.

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Took a ride over the famous Transfagarasan (couldn’t find all the funny characters on this keyboard).  Near Balea Lac, Romania

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Old town square and old streets of Sibiu in Transylvania, Romania

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My favorite statue in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

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From a walk around Breb.  The Maramures region is known for these wooden gateways to the churches and homes.  Breb still moves in time to the old ways with about 1000 residents, most of which are farmers.  Think the church seems big for a ‘little’ village?  Not if all 1000 show up on Sunday…which they do.  Breb, Romania

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I will

The Home Stretch

July 11

I have traveled the Balkans, the Ex-Yugoslavia countries, for over a month now.  Each country is incredibly unique and inside those countries are regions so diverse that at times they even have different presidents and capitols.  Take Bosnia and Herzegovina for example.  The country as you know it is made up of a union of the Bosnian and Croat Federations (two presidents and one capitol, Sarajevo) and the Serbian Republic (a 3rd president and capital, Banja Luka) not to be confused with Serbia, a different country, but linguistically, religiously, and culturally linked.  But what about Herzegovina?  That is a geographic region.  You can be Herzegovinian (ask me later to tell a ‘when a Bosnian and Herzegovinian get in a car crash’ joke), and to complicate matters that region exists in both the Federation and the Republic.  Did you get all that?  Good, because it is about 71% correct depending on who you ask and gives you about 11% of an idea about what is happening there.

I walk back from the showers at Kamp Ivan Do to find a small boy standing only a meter away from Tania staring at her with unwavering attention.  I say good morning; I receive merely a glance in response.  I take my breakfast at a picnic table across from my campsite and I look up at one point to see the little boy dragging his father by the hand over to the bike.  Ten minutes passes as he excitedly gestures at everything.  His father patiently answers questions and then even quizzes him on some of the flags I have painted on the side.  The pair walks away.  Moments later mom is dragged by the arm to Tania.  It is all she can do to end the encounter.  I can imagine the comments now.  ‘No you may not have one, you are certainly not going there, I don’t care what your father said.’  She leaves him there; he stands there a few moments longer and then departs only to return dragging his slightly older sister.  Her reaction is more like dad’s but with the attention span of a 9 year old.  A feeling of joy creeps into me that morning watching what my vanity can only hope (and what his mother can only fear) is the spark that might become the burning desire to Fight Gravity.  Poor bastard.

 

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The Tekija or Dervish Monastery at the source of the Buna River in Blagaj, Herzegovina

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King’s Landing from afar…my favorite way to see it.  Dubrovnik, Croatia.

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Fourth of July on the Bay…of Kotor, Montenegro.  Take note of Jason’s excellent line handling technique.

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Bay of Kotor looking towards Perast, Montenegro.  The legend goes that the island I am sitting on was built stone by stone over 550 years as fisherman and locals threw rocks into the bay on this site of a supposed discovery of a Madonna Icon (biblical, not ‘Like a Virgin’).  They still cast stones around the island every July 22nd.

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Yep, still the Bay of Kotor, shame about that cruise ship.

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Ostrig Monastery, near Nikšič, Montenegro

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The drive up to Durmitor National Park, near Žabljak, Montenegro

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All it takes is a few hundred meters to get you beyond the cruise ship day-trippers.  For good measure I hiked 8 kilometers and 1000 meters up…just to be sure.  Durmitor National Park, Montenegro.

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Out for a walk and found old Bill. Prishtinë, Kosovo

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The National Library of Kosovo can be described as many things, boring is not one of them. Prishtinë, Kosovo.

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Prishtinë Skyline from the not quite finished Mother Teresa Cathedral.  Funny thing, the city also has a Mother Teresa Boulevard that turns into George Bush Boulevard which crosses Bill Clinton Boulevard.  You do the math.

 

 

A Bosnian and a Herzegovinian get into a automobile accident.  Once both get out of their cars the Bosnian begins to shout and wave his arms proclaiming he will call the police.  The Herzegovinian responds, ‘calm down, calm down, let’s drink some rakija’ (locally made spirits) and talk it over.  The Bosnian quiets down, the Herzegovinian pours them each a shot and the Bosnian drinks his.  The Herzegovinian then remarks, ‘Now we can call the police.’   -Thanks to Lauren at Hostel Polako in Trebinje for that one.  Which you should stay at.

Playing in the Dirt

June 26

I made a pact with myself, the type that is unbreakable.  I would seek out unpaved roads and explore them until their conclusion or until they became impassable.  In doing so I have met farmers, sheep herders, .  I witnessed charcoal being made in the traditional way in Serbia and the black-robed monks in the Fruška Gora going about their daily routines.  I have camped in the bush and camped behind (or in front of) various bars and restaurants.  I was chased by sheepdogs and passed a Bosnian landmine response team.  Life seems to be more interesting when the pavement ends.

I am still in Europe though and some pavement-driving and city-living is inevitable.  None of them has disappointed, but Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a welcome surprise.  It will remain at the top of my list due in no small part to the people, the food and the friends I made there.  A weekend turned into a week and still felt like it went by in a minute.

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Gates mean one thing…Treasure beyond.  Slavonia Region, Hrvatska (Croatia)

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Navigation.  I spent 20 minutes speaking with a farmer in his field getting directions (no common language).  He even drew a map in my journal which, later, a Croatian acquaintance could not translate.  After all that, as far as I can tell, the first turn out of his field was supposed to be a left.  I went right.  Near Našice, Croatia (I guess)

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Treasure.  Croatia

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A view from the Petrovaradin Fortress looking across the Danube to Novi Sad, Srbije (Serbia)

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Roma (Gypsy) children celebrating a score in the old town, Novi Sad, Serbia

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Stambol Gate of the Belgrade Fortress.  The fortress guards the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers.  He who controls this fortress controls all the lands downstream.  The first mention of a fortification here dates to the 3rd century BC.  Over 115 known engagements have been fought over the site.  More recently Green Day and Whitesnake have performed on the grounds.  And there are dinosaurs, no explanation for those.  Beograd (Belgrade), Serbia

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The famous Hotel Moscow in downtown Belgrade, Serbia.

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Gilt and guilt, a view of the iconostasis at the St. Mark’s Serbian Orthodox church.  Looks old?  It is, finished in 1940…Belgrade, Serbia

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My favorite public drinking fountain.  Belgrade, Serbia

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Directions could not be easier…in Cyrillic, near Užice, Serbia

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The proverbial hay stack, Serbia

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Last night in Serbia.  I passed a sheep herder and his flock a few hundred meters before this site.  I had just set up my tent on the other side of the ‘road’ from where it is in this picture when the herder comes up and begins to speak and gesture in an animated manner.  The only words I made out from my Srpski language knowledge were ‘small’, ‘bad’, and ‘m%therf&?ker’.  I’ll let you sort out whom and what each of those referred to.  For whatever reason, moving  30 meters to this location made him happy.

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Višegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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A view of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina from the White Fortress.

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Near Bjelašnica, one of the mountains to host events for the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo.  I just read this while checking the spelling for the blog.  ‘Bjelašnica has been, in certain areas, the site of extensive combat during the 1992-’95 Siege of Sarajevo and particular areas pose a high mine risk.’  Explains the Land Mine Response Team truck I passed that day.  Just follow the sheep.

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Bosnians still practice the old ways up in Lukomir, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Mountain top fortifications above Mostar in the Herzegovina part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Views from the abandoned Ljubljanska Banka.  It sat on the ‘front line’ in Mostar and was used as a sniper tower during the war.

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Interior of the sniper tower, Ljubljanska Banka, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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The famous Stari Most (old bridge) in Mostar (which means bridge keeper).  Blown up during the Croat-Bosniak war in 1993 it was rebuilt and reopened in 2004.  So I guess this one is really the Novi Most.  The original stood for 427 years.  Good luck for the next 427, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

June 7               Trip Odometer:   51163.5 Miles  (2.05 times around the equator)           18,418 (or so) hours on the road

˝Links, links!˝ she shouts.  Ahh, I think that means left.  I don’t have much time to decide since I can just make out that the road ends at a junction and it is too dark to see which way she turned.  My friend Beat and I are hurtling down rural Swiss roads on bicycles following his friend Donja (I guessed on the spelling, sorry) on our way to the Ski Club’s full moon party.  The full moon is the only thing lighting our way there.  Actually, it isn’t.  It has not risen yet and there is not a street light this far out of town.  Beat is laughing too hard to translate (Donja speaks perfect English, but frankly I would shout in my native tongue during high-speed-low-illumination bicycle maneuvers as well.  I flip a mental coin and lean left towards what could possibly be the rear of Donja’a speeding bicycle…or a fence post.  To be fair, I am being overly dramatic, links is obviously left because recht is right.  See, now you speak German too.  We arrive at the ski club’s barn after only one more snafu when Beat’s tire runs out of air and he must borrow a pump from a passerby.  The drink of choice tonight is Lutz, a very Swiss mix of homemade schnapps and black tea kept warm at the bar.  The perfect drink for the crisp May nights in the foothills of the Alps.

These are the micro-adventures I love and was missing following my departure from the African continent.  I found myself almost suffering from separation anxiety and finding it difficult to adjust to a vastly different continent, cultures and people.  It was my own fault, of course, and it took some time to make the adjustment in travel routines and my approach to exploration.  I am very lucky to have many friends in Europe now (new and old) and they have been wonderfully helpful in getting me back to fighting gravity.  And helping me sort Tania out as well.  After leaving Africa she did something akin to your 4-year-old daughter sitting in a corner until you buy her that God damn pony.

So what does it all mean?  I am staying small.  The beach vacation is cancelled (again, dramatic, I plan on going in Albania), none of these castle visits, ‘traditional’ restaurants, or tour/dinner/drink combos!  The bucket list is filled with ski club drink-ups, naps in fields, turning off the GPS,  eating ćevapčići (say it ten times fast) and crisp apple strudels, and Serbian biker rallies.  I am on the grandest of petites aventures.

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The Kasteel de Haar in the Utrecht Region of The Netherlands

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The streets of Grevenmacher, Luxembourg before the summer tourist season.

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Hiking in the Pfalzerwald (Palatine Forest) near Schindhard, Germany

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A view from the Barenbrunnerhof (Brown Bear House) campsite in the Pfalzerwald, Germany.

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The road to Klausenpass, near Spiringen, Switzerland

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Climbing the dozens of turns on the Klausenpass, Switzerland

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Lunch break near Hochdorf, Switzerland

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Main street, Morges, Switzerland

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Lake Geneva (or Léman) Morges, Switzerland

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Just met the von Trapp’s, lovely people.  I couldn’t resist.  Austria.

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Mount Triglav near Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

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Tourist boats on Lake Bled, Bled, Slovenia

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Bled Island with the Assumption of Mary Church (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja in Slovene)

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Oldest town in the country, Ptuj, Slovenia.  The first written mention of the town was in 69 AD.

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Ride through the vineyards near Podlehnik, Slovenia.

Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together

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May 13                                                                                              Above: Was not my first choice of sheet patterns.

It has been a long and frustrating process rebuilding Tania and preparing her for the final months in Europe and the trek back to North America.  46 days have gone by in the Netherlands and 111 days have passed since I last rode Tania (into Nairobi).  A big thanks to Bart Roseboom for all his help and advice during the project.  Absolutely no thanks whatsoever to Marcel Frank of Motorenrevisie B.V. who decided to take a holiday instead of fixing Tania’s cylinder and cylinder head.  Beware Mister Frank, I know the Queen of the Dahomey’s and I am currently having a voodoo hex put on you and your offspring.  Thankfully the bus is cheap and easy to use here in the first world so I took a holiday as well to see friends old and new.  Some pictures below.  For the gear heads who are wondering, here are the actions we completed to put Humpty back together:

  1. New steering stem bearings
  2. New rear wheel bearings
  3. New rear hub damper
  4. Front and rear brakes bled and serviced
  5. New exhaust valves
  6. All valve seats ground and repaired
  7. New valve seals
  8. Cylinder walls machined to spec
  9. Cylinder head cleaned and machined to spec
  10. Piston sanded and measured
  11. New piston rings
  12. New headlights
  13. Greased both axles and all suspension bearings
  14. Cleaned and waxed chain
  15. Drained and flushed radiator
  16. Oil change
  17. Valve clearances checked
  18. Disassmebled and inspected over 80% of the bike
  19. Hand cleaned all parts

 

Coming out of the crate the only way we know how.  Bottom is the valve and piston damage.

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Coming back together slowly.

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Street Art, Paris, France

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If I had a nickel for every time I hear an 11 piece brass band cover Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit…  Including three euphoniums (I had to look that up) Paris, France.

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You know they have free wi-fi in the garden here?!  Some old church, Paris, France

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Some nice weather in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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King’s Day celebrations on the canals of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Tulips and Windmills, so very Dutch, somewhere in Flevoland, The Netherlands

This is Sudan

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March 27

This is not how I prefer to travel.  This is not to say flying from Nairobi to Khartoum is taxing; it is quite the opposite.  I caught up on movies much like my last flight.  I got a night’s sleep in my favorite spot between the “B” and “C”terminals in Dubai International and I had time to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with a proper Guinness pulled from a tap at McGettigan’s Pub.  My lament comes from the break in continuity it causes.  Like a test pattern and someone announcing, ‘We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast…’ in the middle of my African soap drama.  I come to understand and enjoy a place more when I approach it in increments.  First, the visa application at the embassy; second, get all the gossip from the neighboring country (all garbage made of half truths); third, cross its border, the physical one at ground level not at 40,000 feet, and then I am ready for the country itself.

My first glimpse of Sudan is from 11,000 feet and I see nothing but sand.  As the plane descends I realize at 1,800 feet we have been directly above Khartoum the whole time only the blowing sand is too thick to see the city until now.  Conveniently, Khartoum’s airport is in the city center and it is an easy two kilometer walk to the guesthouse through the cool early evening.  My first day out in the city I search out the Hamid el-Nil Mosque to witness the Sufis perform the Halgt Zikr.  The Halgt Zikr is probably much more complicated than I can understand, but it basically consists of a bunch of guys chanting il-la-il-la-il-la-allah and whirling about…for three hours.  As I step off the bus a local takes me under his wing and leads me through the huge cemetery surrounding the mosque.  This sort of unsolicited hospitality will come to define Sudan for me.  He must leave to wash his hands and feet before prayer and so he passes me off to another man who escorts me to the tomb of Sheikh Hamid el-Nil, just adjacent to the mosque.  On the walk we establish (using our approximately 20 shared words of Arabic and English) that I am a tourist, American, and not Muslim.  To all of this he shrugs his shoulders, motions me to remove my shoes and before another thought crosses my mind I am in the tomb.  It is a cacophony of sounds as we pack into this tiny building.  There is a group of men singing and playing instruments beginning the Halgt Zikr ceremony and many devotees are spread about paying their respects.  At one point I have a handful of dates (very hard ones) shoved into my pocket.  I later learn they are a symbol of the food we need in the next life.  Next my ‘guide’ motions to me to place my hand in a hole through a partition beneath the covered item in the middle of the room.  I discover on the other side of the partition lies the Sheikh’s sarcophagus.  Moments after paying my respects I am standing outside blinking in the bright daylight trying to make sense of what just happened.

I have little time to collect myself before four younger guys surround me and ask, in almost perfect English, if I would join them for shai, a tea.  As the conversation over shai and pastries progresses and more people join I find this group meets here every Friday to practice their English.  It is a wonderful experience and a crash course in all things Sudan.  After over an hour chatting they insist I come watch the Halgt Zikr, now beginning in earnest.  I have completely forgotten my original purpose in coming here.  I even have to be reminded to take a picture.  At the end of the evening the whole group insists on walking me back to the bus stop.

I have met wonderful people all over the continent but Sudan has such an unabashed, simple, effortless hospitality it still surprises me every time.  The feeling is magnified more by the contrast with East Africa.  My bad experiences there were by no means ubiquitous or overwhelming, but it is telling that on any matatu (bus) ride in Nairobi there was a 1 in 4 chance I would be ripped off or an attempt would be made by the conductor to swindle me.  It wasn’t the money (usually less than 30 cents) but the audacity of it that bothered me.  Once, when I confronted a conductor about not returning my change, he told me no less than 4 excuses (they are actually called lies) on why he couldn’t give change.  After two months in Nairobi I know the bus fares, peak and off-peak times and every other excuse.  His final retort still sticks with me.  “You people never complain, this is Kenya.”  In Sudan a conductor searched the market for 5 minutes for change, failed, then just shrugged and gave me all my money back.  When I am confused by the local buses someone will lead me to the station or connecting bus and even ensure I get a seat and the conductor knows where I am going.  When I walked into the pharmacy looking like death the pharmacist knocked half the price off my bill because he felt bad I was ill in his country almost as if he was to blame.  He also insisted that if my symptoms turned out to be malaria (they weren’t) he would drive me to the hospital and ensure I got the treatment I needed.  There is no foreign price here, I pay the same as anyone, no one has asked me to ‘sponsor’ them, hustlers, touts, swindlers, and ‘guides’ are almost non-existent.  This could also be because Sudan sees about as many tourists as Ogallala, Nebraska.  Khartoum is an incredibly safe city; I feel comfortable walking anywhere.  Even petty crime is virtually unheard of.

One afternoon, walking along the banks of the Nile, a man invited me to join him for lunch.  He had just ordered fuul, the Sudanese staple of stewed broad beans, bread, oil, onions, tomatoes (and if its a classy joint, feta cheese).  I accept because I had been meaning to try some.  He refuses to let me pay for any part of the meal and will not let me consume any less than half of the bowl.  During our conversation I remark that it is exceptionally nice for someone to give up, what was moments ago, half his lunch.  He looks at me with a broad grin and replies, ‘This is Sudan’.

The beginning of the Halgt Zikr at the Hamid el-Nil Mosque, Khartoum, Sudan

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A great shot of the elusive Italian tourist…and whirling dervishes.  Hamid el-Nil Mosque, Khartoum, Sudan

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The Meroe Pyramids.  Constructed some time between 800 B.C. and 500 B.C. they became the royal burial grounds of the kings of the Kingdom of Kush.  Not as large as the Pyramids at Giza but beautiful nonetheless.  Oh, and I pretty much had them to myself.  Near Shendi, Sudan

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With the exception of the 4 days I was in a fight to the death with stomach parasites, I spent almost all of my time in these little tea shops.  This one was quite luxurious, it was inside.  Most were just stools on the sidewalk.  My options included shai (tea) plain, with milk, or mint, or other spices I never really learned the translation for.  Qahwa (coffee) was also available as was jebbana, my favorite, a coffee spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, and some other stuff.  When you go to Khartoum, there is a spot next to the Tutti Island bridge where you can sit under the shade sipping mint tea, watching the Blue Nile pass on by.  I recommend it.

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I had a walk around Tutti Island, just above.  Top left is a view of ‘downtown’ from the fields of the island and top right is the last point of land before the Blue and White Nile converge.  A rather unassuming spot, what makes the photo special is that it has a bridge in it which is expressly forbidden according to my travel and photo permit (which I used the back of to write the rough draft for this blog)

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Sunset over ‘new’ Khartoum.  The White Nile is in the background and the Blue Nile to the right.