Sunday, November 10, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Oddly enough this site still shows traffic. Who is visiting? I've already said I won't update it anymore. All new posts will be at www.chasingeden.com
That does not mean there is nothing here to see. I suggest starting at the bottom of the page and reading up. That will take you from B-school graduation through the trip with my sister to Spain, on to sailing the Mediterranean, a month in Turkey, Bulgaria and ending up with life in a Romanian hostel.
It is a good read. It can make you feel very far away. It is some of the best writing I've ever done, even though its just a travel journal. It gets really good about a third of the way through....thats when I started to feel very far away.
There is a lot of life in those words I wrote. I look back now and they speak to me. Thats the mark of something good: It gives back more than I put in.
Friday, October 11, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Ok. Everyone knows I'm back home. Because of the small but steady interest in following my so called life I've decided to continue keeping a weblog....I just won't keep it here anymore.
I'll leave this one online in case someone wants a reality escape. In the next few days/whenever I get to it I'll put up my new site, which will likely have a permanent home at www.chasingeden.com.
On another note, The Arts and Letters Daily has closed up shop. It was my favorite site on the Internet. It made the world a better place and I don't say that about many things.
Without ALDaily, I could have never pretended to be half as intellectual as I constantly fail to be. I am sad in a way. They did great stuff and now its gone.
Saturday, October 05, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I am a young white Anglo-Saxon protestant from an upper middle class family with an MBA from a top tier grad school. I am the heir apparent to the American Dream. And I believe in the American Dream. I just don�t believe it is found in America anymore.
I am back in Budapest for the 1st time in 7 years. It doesn�t look the same without the snow. 7 years ago Budapest was a traveler�s paradise�50 cent beers, cheap food and a sense of lawlessness�like the Wild West. As sit here with my Value Meal I see the prices have risen to more or less western standards.
7 Years ago the Hungarians were still drinking beers and eating at McDonalds�maybe they hardly notice a difference. But if they traveled abroad they would find a Big Mac much more affordable�in effect they have gotten richer. Some fortunate folks with a small chunk of cash 7 years ago have ridden that growth to summer homes in Bali�or if that doesn�t interest you, they slept till noon the past 7 years and still managed to make a buck because of all the growth.
Hungary was the land of opportunity. But for whom? For us. How competitive is it at home? How much capital do you need to start a business? What is the price of failure? What is the price of success?
There is a multiplex theatre across the street from where I sit. Some farsighted tourist searched the city in vain 7 years ago for a choice in movies, took a tenth of the money he�d have needed back home to start-up, ran it poorly cause he knew nothing about it, succeeded anyway because there was little or no competition and is now living the high life, making money that spends well abroad in one of the most beautiful capital cities in Europe. Your work ethic is average at home. It is stellar in Eastern Europe. Your money goes further, your education sets you apart more�there are more opportunities. Every city of 10,000 or more has a multiplex in the States.
And of course Hungary has them now too. So what good did that do us? Bucharest, the capital of Romania, just an overnight train from Budapest, with its millions of inhabitants, has no multiplex. Of course Bhutan probably doesn�t have one either, but it isn�t slated for entry to NATO or the EU. It isn�t surrounded by developed countries. Romania and Bulgaria are Hungary and the Czech Republic 7 years ago.
The American Dream is alive and well�in Eastern Europe, in Southeast Asia, in South America.
I lived in Sighisoara, Romania for about 3 weeks. It gets loads of middle-aged German tourists for day trips. In my 3 weeks I bet I never got in and out of a restaurant in less than an hour and a half�the service was so bad it was funny. I usually got my own menu and ordered my own drinks. You can die of starvation waiting for food at these restaurants. Personally, it didn�t matter much�I had nothing else to do�but the Germans were on day trips. I bet there is pretty good money earning hard currency from middle-aged German tourists.
If you came up with a relatively simple idea like that at home, there�d already be 3 on every corner. You almost have to reinvent the wheel to make it big. There is too much competition.
I can hear it now: What�s the matter Elliott? Can�t hack it? Let me ask you this: Why would you want to? If I told you there were places where halfway decent ideas could earn you more than decent profit, where the start-up money and work hours were a fraction of what you�d need at home, where your skills were in greater demand, where there was little competition and tons of growth�it'd sound too good�but its out there. These countries on the cusp of becoming 1st World are living the American Dream.
Friday, September 27, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I love America for the most part. And its like I tell people when they ask me: We are far less annoying when you�re actually in the US. There is nothing else to compare it to.
Americans talk too much. We are loud. We feel the world is a better place if we can tell everyone our opinion about everything�and we mistakenly think people care. Can I please have another American whine to me about how things �aren�t like that back home�? We want to see the world�but on a ride at Disney World. Afterwards there must be ice cream and chili cheese fries in an air-conditioned dining room with spotless toilets and free refills with lots of ice.
There was this middle aged guy at the hostel the other night. One beer and he starts in on Communism and Ceausescu. And he kept trying to talk to me. I�m the other American right? I understand though�what does it matter? He�s on his 2 week a year vacation; he�s never coming back. He turns to me with this goofy smile, like an inside joke, and says, �You know�the Ugly American�I�m just playing my part.� I almost hit the fucker. He reinforces the stereotype, but I have to live with it. Idiots like him run up the bill and its travelers like me that have to pay. I left him alone and he found some new chumps and I swore up and down I was from Canada.
Americans have an obsession with productivity. It is our unofficial national religion. Idle hands are the devil�s work, right? We can�t sit still. My father invents projects to do in his off time. And it isn�t just my dad�being non-productive makes us feel guilty.
What ever happened to the venerable old art of doing nothing? By my reckoning, most of human existence has been spent just sort of sitting around. Life was certainly more risky in the past, but there was more time too.
You wanna know what I think? I�ll tell you anyway since you�re on my website: You can�t charge for doing nothing. It has no monetary value. That�s why doing nothing is promoted as wasteful. What does it waste? Money. There is an implicit value judgment in that: If you aren�t using your time to increase monetary value, it is wasteful. Chasing money is good. Spending time doing something else is �the devil�s work�.
What did the Buddha do to find enlightenment? He sat under a tree for a few weeks, barely moving or eating. What a waste, huh? Completely unproductive.
There is nothing wrong with being productive. But how do you measure productivity? Mostly you measure it with money. Doing work is productive. Cutting the grass is productive, but its a monetary activity too�an investment in the value of your home and property. Not all productive activities are monetary�true. But most of them are.
Lets think about the amount of time you spend in productive monetary pursuits. How many of your waking hours? 12 a day? More?
Now think about the most important things in your life. How many a day are you spending on those? If money isn�t at the top of that list, why are you spending so much time chasing it?
It isn�t my aim to make one re-examine their life. But our obsession with productivity is really about an obsession with money. Its just that I�ve met very few people who are actually obsessed with money. We need it, yes. But not obsessed.
If we aren�t obsessed, then why do we devote so much of our life to it? Honestly�I can�t answer that without sounding like a bitter, conspiracy theory junkie or a bearded, robe wearing mystic.
So who is productivity supposed to benefit? Ourselves, of course.
But ask yourself this: If you get more productive, does your quality of life increase? Do you get closer to those things most important to you? No.
If you are more productive, you generally work more, not less. You get paid more too�but is it increasing your quality of life? Does it get you any closer to the things most important to you? Are you a better son to your parents? Do you love your friends more? Do you laugh more as your pay increases? Maybe the answer is yes�but maybe it isn�t.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
posted by Kellio |
An hour of CNN news before boarding the plane. I haven't watched TV in 3 months.
Intermission: Commercials, commercials and more commercials. Everyone waiting on the plane to Cincinnati is fat.
- Number of people in U.S. correctional facilities reaches all time high at 6 million. Over half are in for drug or alcohol related charges.
- NSYNC singer Lance Bass set to begin training for his space flight.
- Tonight on Crossfire: How bad are U.S. international relations? Is President Bush to blame?
The guy next to me is talking on his cell phone sipping on a bottle of Pepto-Bismol�.
- Iraq said to plan tangling U.S. in street fighting...can't win open battle.
- Over 60% of Americans are obese or overweight. Does dieting work?
Welcome Home Elliott.
Sunday, September 15, 2002
posted by Kellio |
You know...its a real pity you can't just be someone else for a while. If we all shared in those finer moments a little more often...if we knew what if felt like to win the World Series with a homerun or summit Everest or sail the South Seas with nothing but the wind and a sextant....oh the possibilities...world peace, an end to hunger and racism, free milkshakes for everyone and .50 cent coffee at Starbucks.
I've been gone 3� months. 11� hours to go: Venice to JKF to Cincinnati to Greenville. My dad will pick me up. No one else knows I'm coming home.
I'm at the airport. I don't particularly like sleeping at airports, but I like it more than paying $30 a night in Venice. I paid $5 a night all across Turkey...and Turkey kicks Italy's ass. Its clean and empty and late. I'm the only one here, except the nice night watchman that gave me a bottle of water. Its odd to be the only one in a place so big and quiet.
It feels like I've been gone forever...lifetimes have passed...2 or 3 at least. I barely recall myself 4 months ago. What was I like? I remember thinking alot during school how far I'd drifted from those things I like best in myself. Its so easy to do. But I did well in my classes and sometimes enjoyed it and made friends the best I could. And thats how it often goes: you do a little here and some there and try to enjoy it and then one day you forget those things you liked best in yourself. We were all brilliant little kids with enough heart to make flowers bloom all year.
Life is short.....I disagree. Life is long. These 3� months have been eternal...endless. Travel can turn months into years, days into weeks. It's turned these last 3� into a lifetime. Consider that I've been doing this for 7 years: Life is long.
And what a life it sometimes is!! 3� months...I sailed the Mediterranean on a 50 foot yacht. That was a lifetime. Seasickness..exotic ports...night sails...salt water...and movement. I was on the ship with most eminent pain doctor in Sweden. His whole life was a mess: wife filed for divorce while he was on the boat...drank and smoked all day and put himself to bed every night with sleeping pills. Sometimes he didn't wake till the next evening. I hope that isn't the price of eminence in your field. The other doctor on the boat went back to Sweden and killed himself with an injection of the morphine he took for his migraines. His funeral was last week. And he wasn't eminent at all...seemed pretty well adjusted.
In Rhodes I really began to recover (thanks Becky). Thats where things started to get funny again. I think I'd forgotten how to enjoy myself. Even my journal entries start to improve (June 23). 3 days with blistering fever on a Turkish Gullet, met up with Kent in Cappadoccia, made great friends in sleepy little Goreme, had a huge crush on an Australian math teacher, met two chicks in Bran that reminded me of me (check out their website), tons of wild nights, more than a few sunrises, lived and worked at a hostel in Transylvania (miss you guys)...and that's just the stuff I'm willing to share. All that in 3� months. Life is long.
I'd like to say here to those of you I received mail from during this trip: I really appreciate it. I meant a lot to me to hear what you thought. It can get lonely out here (especially right now at 2:30 in a cold, empty airport) and reality checks are few and far between. If it weren't for you feedback I certainly wouldn't have continued to keep this website. Many people said it was entertaining...for some it provoked a thought or feeling...and some folks actually got quite personal with their letters and shared a thing or two...those are the ones I appreciate the most.
I remember one of my first journal entries. I was in a bad way when I wrote it...lonely and confused, but I meant it at the time nonetheless.(May 21). I said travel was passing its usefulness. Well...I was dead wrong. It would be better, mostly, if it had...then I could leave it for dead and move on.
Travelling is the only thing I've ever done that consistently exceeds expectations. How many things can you say that about?
It is where I fit in best and most easily find nice people. Its most where I'm told I'm not crazy and where I am not judged. There are less reservations and more openness. There is a heap of trust and more sharing. It feeds the most childish, petty and shallow parts of me. It also develops the most profound and soulful parts in ways nothing else can. It makes me comfortable with myself and eager to meet new people...which always happens in an intense rush because you're catching everyone in between here and there. It forces you to open up fast...there isn't enough time for anything else. It also teaches me patience...everyday is an emotional rollercoaster. Surviving the day can be a heroic act. The ups and downs are monstrous. At times I ride them out and sometimes I let them sweep me away. It teaches reckless abandon, which there is far too little of these days. Travelling can be dangerous and exhilarating...take advantage of that: you're leaving the country the next day anyway.
Perhaps most interestingly, travelling will show what people are really like, which is a terrific lesson that teaches you a whole lot about yourself too, if you let it. There is no substitute for travel in this respect. Without it you'll only ever know the nature of people where you live, or the nature of people with your religion or the nature of people under democracy or with education or from a warm climate. Only after you've seen a little of everything, everywhere do you start to notice things common to Everyone.
And its not as easy as it appears to flit around the globe by the seat of your pants; if you don't believe me...try it. Travel has learned me many a good problem solving skill and made me, for better and worse, the person I am. Stress out? I was once chased by a man with a scimitar in Morocco.
I could go on, but I've just about come full circle. Its being chased by that man with a sword in Morocco, sleeping under the stars of the Negev desert or trekking in the Himalayas that makes life long...it also reminds me how much I'll miss being out here.
Its a pity travelling is considered a vacation and not what it more resembles: an education far better than....well...anything.
Here is a picture of me in Morocco 2� years ago. Thats the edge of the Sahara in the background:
Monday, September 09, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Venice, Italy. It was 7 years ago the 1st time I visited. I was young...and idealistic. It amazes me how much I still resemble that kid. Not that I've maintained much innocence, just that I didn't have all that much even then. I am a born skeptic. Anyway...besides the fairy tale canals and distinctly Venetian architecture, I remember commenting in my journal (yes I even kept one back then) on a distinct sense of abandonment. It was low season and the town was dead. I remember wandering the quaintly mildewed canal streets drinking cheap rose wine and thinking it was too empty to be of much use to us.
Fast Forward 7 years: Its not empty now in the middle of summer...but there is still that sense of abandonment. Too many boarded windows, black mold on marble walls, cracked stucco, the rising water level, marshy islands and buildings with flooded ground floors.
The beauty of Venice has been its own undoing. It's been abandoned to the tourists...so expensive no one can afford to live there. 3 bucks for a Coke. 2 bucks for 15 minutes of Internet..it was 33 cents an hour just a day away in Bulgaria. My pen ran out of ink a few hours ago. I couldn't buy another one...apparently selling pens doesn't make one enough money to survive in Venice...I did see a 200 dollar Mont Blanc in a jewelry shop though. There is only one Youth Hostel left and its on the outskirts of the islands...not enough money in cheap accommodation. I paid $30 last night for a shared room I was assured is the cheapest in the city. I paid $5 all across Turkey (just two days away by train). The same $10 pizza I am eating right now I was buying for $2 in Romania.
There is little left...just buildings like a sinking museum...restaurants and shops, high fashion, overpriced ice cream, boutiques, film and camera shops, jewelry, glassware...and hotels, lots of hotels. I have yet to see a supermarket or hardware store. They should just close the public train station and start charging admission...like the Venice ride at Disney World.
But there is no doubt its really pretty..
Sunday, September 08, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I posted a few more pictures and will write another entry tonight. I've been a little more busy lately so I haven't had time to think.
It has also come to my attention that you have to sign in/join Imagestation.com to view the pictures. That sucks, but I haven't gotten any more junk mail since I joined and it is better than the old site I used for storing pictures.
This pictures is taken outside the Hagia Sophia after the light show at the Blue Mosque during the 5 minutes a day they run the fountain:
Monday, September 02, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I'm on the Eurocity to Budapest. Nice train...its been years since I was on one so nice...5 maybe. The Transylvanian countryside is rural, verdant and pastoral. It reminds me of nowhere in particular and has a timeless quality of rolling green hills and post card inspired stucco houses.
Travelling is the best opportunity you'll ever have to become yourself....there is always that if you are at a dead end. 3 weeks of dumb contentment and tons of great nights...it was a vacation from a vacation and likely changed the course of my life. The second I woke this morning...red eyed and unrested, travelling started up again. Packing bags (did i forget anything?) checking the time (will i make the train?) where is my passport and tickets (most important stuff) leaving the country (do i need to change money? need a visa?) will i catch the train...only have 30 minutes...taxi to town, change money..forgot to eat..buy food? no time...gotta go back to the hostel to fetch my bags...should've thought about this before...taxi driver doesn't have change..have to say goodbye to everyone..sad, but I'm used to it...whistle..on the train..world starts moving...release. Exhale.
And that happens 20 times a day in some variation...emotional roller coaster.
Oddly I've grown to associate hunger with travel. Warm hunger pains in my stomach remind me of no Drachma at the port in Pireaus trying to find my ferry to Israel 6 years ago. I begged an apple off a vendor and permenantly borrowed some bread from another. They remind me of Bray outside Dublin when we walked so far out of town there was nothing...no food or water..and no passing cars.
But you can ignore the hunger or just recognize it...you can look at the mountains with its terraced ridges and patches of black forest...a man with a scythe in a field, a flock of crow, skinny cows and rusted train tracks, brown mission tile roof...brick smokestacks...crooked old woman with burlap bag, brown swollen river....my own tired eyes and racing mind. I forgot to shower.
What a pretty mountain that is. I'll never set foot on it. If I did, I'd never make it to the ridge beyond...if I did that I'd never cross the valley below. And thats how it all gets the same...almost the same. Bucharest, Budapest, Vienna, Pamplona, Barcelona, Bern, Luzern, Lausanne, Paris, Venice, Florence...was it caving in Prague and trekking in Slovakia or vice versa? Where was that hostel I liked so much? That restaurant? What was her name? Where was he from? I travelled with them for 3 days...I should remember. I should've eaten too...but you can't have everything...or so they say.
I'll miss Sighisoara...but it was time to move on...fun though. Nathan really does enjoy his life more. He was drunk and told me...and that he would miss me...and that lonliness is the worst part of it........I know.
Wednesday, August 28, 2002
posted by Kellio |
August 22 2002 - From my personal journal:
Today is my last day in Sighisoara. I'm gonna get a haircut and try to avoid sappy goodbyes. This place was home, at least for a while...and a good one at that. I like the people, the atmosphere and I love the lifestyle. Its hard for me to be too sad...I've done this a million times...sometimes that doesn't help.
Going home i don't think I could be in a better state of mind. I have plans to look forward to. I'm clear as to my responsibilities to myself. My head is open and focused. I know it'll take patience, but I'm also clearer than I've ever been concerning the direction of my life. I could be wrong...but I like where I am nonetheless.
Follow your heart...thats what they say. How do you know what its saying though? Its harder to figure that out than it is to follow it once you know. Of course, I still don't know, but I've had a few moments of clarity of late...the kind when you feel like a spaceship about to blast off...full of so much positive energy you think you can read minds or sprout wings or something. And so I'll listen to what they said for lack of any clearer direction.
Friday, August 23, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Tonight Soren got drunk and found me alone; reading a book. I remember the other day walking back from the station in the rain...he told me all Romanian people are shit. No one has any money. The pay is shit. There are no jobs unless you pay bribes to get them. He longed for the days of Communism: "With Ceausescu people go to school..after they promise you a job. They tell you...go to this school and study and after there is waiting for you this job."
We passed a building under construction. "See this building. They are building it now 7 years. They will not finish. All the people are stupid. With Ceausescu he say make building and the people make it...maybe 2 years."
He was drunk and likes to complain, especially to me. I suspect its because everyone else has already told him to shut up.
Someone walked in and took a cigarette and walked out. "I hate that man. He is so stupid." I finally looked up and set my book down. There would be no more reading for Elliott. It had been sort of quiet and peaceful before.
He explained he always asks before taking a cigarette. Then he commented on the guy himself. "He used to work here, but Nathan fired him. He tells lies to the tourists." Then I heard the story of how he was engaged and caught his best friend "making the fucking" with his fiancee. Next he shared a story about a drunk American that tried to fight him, but assured me he never gets angry at people when they are bad drunks. I told him I didn't either.
He failed to get my private joke and just kept on...though I stared at him like a block of wood. I never hid the fact that I wasn't one bit interested in sharing his bitterness. I have enough of my own.
The next story was about 9/11. I learned that, although a tragedy that people died, it was a good thing for the conceited, close-minded Americans. "Before 11 they think 'We are America. We are the best. There is no other country.' Now, after the Towers, they are more open mind. Now there are other countries. In America it was a bad thing, but in the world it was a good thing. It was a lesson." I considered telling him that Romania would have to implode in an earthquake of naked women and shooting stars before they'd make it past the scrolling byline on CNN....but thought it useless.
And he kept on, with passion and hand gestures and laments of his lost finacee, with a bluntness unique to a drunk with bad English. And I just stared with unhidden apathy. My pulse barely jumped even at his story about the odd justice of meaningless death. I felt nothing but annoyed that he was keeping me from a book I wasn't really enjoying much in the first place (The Plague - Albert Camus). He was like a TV I'd yet to figure out how to turn off. But I did. I offerred to buy him a beer, thinking he'd forget to come back after. Best 50 cents I ever spent.
And in this way there gets to be a blinding normalcy to travel. You come to expect stories of dead people in the streets in India, renting rocket launchers to blow up cows in Pakistan, of tanks in Jakarta, bribing the police, sleeping in the streets, of robbery, time in jail and the mafia...of Sultans, living for pennies a day, making it with strange women, selling organs, insurance scams, opium dens in Laos, the sex trade in Vietnam, on horseback through Mongolia, of beggars with no arms and legs, poverty past imagination, the greatest beaches, beers, skiing, diving, trekking, the cheapest food, drugs, women...and it just goes on and on and one day a story about losing your fiancee to your best friend, the old days of Communism, or the justice of your dying countrymen...is just sort of normal...or as normal as it gets anyway.
Yesterday Nick told me he bribed his way out of mandatory military service for 1000 bucks by paying a doctor to declare him insane. Last week he tried to bribe his teacher for exams with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a box of Cuban cigars.
Nick: And that mother fucker said no!! I couldn't believe it. Romania used to be the Land of Opportunity. You could get anything you wanted...and now its come to this.
Me: What are you gonna do?
Nick: Try to bribe his secretary.
Last week 3 Irish got jumped by some Romanians at 4 in morning leaving a club. The cops came to the hostel at 5:30...turns out one of the Romanians was the Premier's son. They had to pay/bribe 100 bucks to get their passports back.
The hostel owner, a 27 year old American, told me his last girlfriend was 16. His comment: "She told me she was 18."
There was the chain-smoking Aussie chick from the Turkish Gullet and her fabulous stories of globetrotting with a Sultan oil tycoon...women and cars and mountains of cocaine and ridiculous amounts of money spent on nothing in particular. "He kept me around because of my big mouth. I made him laugh...and I always refused to sleep with him."
You just shrug your shoulders after a while and think, "Of course...why not?" Its made me alot less judgemental...but its made coming home hard to do. Its sometimes difficult to feign interest in some story about office politics, an ingrown toenail or some big upcoming meeting. "Wow man, last week we got really drunk, picked up these two hot chicks and took them back to our place.." Its an ok story. But "Man, last week in Transylvania we got pissed on 50 cent vodka shots and picked up two 18 year old Romanian girls that hardly spoke any English. We were staying in the hostel so we got with them under the bridge next to the walls of the old city with people walking by till the sun came up. We had to ditch them after that cause we had a train to Budapest at 8..." It just sounds better. I realize this is my deficiency and that it really is interesting if I just ignore the past 7 years of my life...but its hard sometimes.
Wednesday, August 21, 2002
posted by Kellio |
These pictures are a little late. I left Turkey about a month ago.
This is the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, about a 5 minute walk from where we were staying. The Hagia Sophia was behind me as I took the picture. I'd say its one of the best places in the world to just stand and look. Two of the most amazing buildings on the planet, gardens and a fountain within a couple hundred yards of each other.
This is taken in Cappadocia. It isn't even one of my better pictures, but I've lost patience trying to upload more.
Sunday, August 18, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Saturday, August 17, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Did you know that there are no hostels in Bulgaria? Not one. I loved Bulgaria and it needs some hostels...preferably ones that I own. After having lived here (at this hostel in Sighisoara) for the last two weeks I know I can do it...and well and for cheap (I could get it up and running and cover about a year of operating losses for 20,000 bucks)...but cheap isn't free, and so I think I'll have to go back home and make money and perhaps, if no one has opened a hostel by the time I get the cash, come back and do something then. Anyone have 20,000 bucks lying around they want to let me borrow? I met a guy from Philly the other day that skipped out on his student loans. He just never paid. He's living in Prague now.
Nathan, who owns the hostel here, used to work corporate in the States...6 figures a year. Thats a mountain of cash. He had a house in New York and a convertable Saab turbo...and he had a wife, 2 cell phones, a pager, grey hair and was overweight. Now he is almost a rock star. His grey hair went away. Thats incredible...in fact I don't even know if I believe it, but its a great story. I interviewed him the other day and might write an article about it. This was my favorite part:
Me: How much money do you make now?
Nathan: Nothing, just enough to live.
Me: What would you say about your quality of life here in Romania as compared to back home?
Nathan: Its better. A ton better.
Me: Do you think you'll ever go back home?
Nathan: Not planning to.
Better. He lives better. A six figure salary couldn't buy him a better quality of life than he has here making nothing. Think about it.
I'm feeling lightheaded.
Reread it and think about it.
Friday, August 09, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I was on the train to Bucharest, slightly annoyed. The gypsies were all throwing rocks at the train, there were two gay guys fondling each other across from me and the Romanians were all complaing about the Bulgarians. "Why does Romania hate Bulgaria?" I asked. "Because Romania is better" said the girl as the gypsies scurried about outside dirty and barefoot. "Why" I pressed. "Because it is so." She was upset and considered the matter settled. I, however, didn't. I met someone in the hall smoking a cigarette, looking philosophic, so I asked him: "Because there must always be someone lower on the totem pole, you understand?" I understood.
They all asked me what I thought of Bulgaria: "I like it very much. Its cheap and Soviet and the people are nice. Its also very beautiful.." I got the same frown from everyone. Obviously I had the wrong answer and you know what they say: When in Romania, do as the Romanians...so I amended my opinion: "It was ok...sort of dirty and I couldn't read anything. Romania is better." They were much happier.
First stop in Bulgaria the two gay guys got off and a Romanian in a flowered shirt got on. "What religion you?" he asked immediately. Great leadoff question!! I wanted to give the right answer but he didn't strike me as particularly Protestant or Catholic. "Protestant." I guessed. He smiled and nodded, "I Episcopalean." "Me too!!" We were instant friends and he was actually a great help to me.
The next stop an American, David, got on. "Where you been?" He rattled off a string of Western European countries. "Where you going." He rattled off a bunch more. "How much time you got?" He had to be in Amsterdam in a few days and he'd planned stops in Prague and Poland first. "Thats a lot of travel," I deadpanned.
Each nationality has their own way of travel, and one can tell a lot about a nation's character from the way its youth vacation abroad. I remember this 28 year old American law student I met in Valencia. "I went for a jog and then to the museum of sciences this morning so I could lay on the beach and do nothing the rest of the day." By my reckoning she could've done that anyway, she didn't need a jog.
The American on the train had 7 weeks to travel. He'd been to almost every country in Europe, but I'd venture to say he didn't really see much of anything, except through the couchette window, and could only comment intelligently on the state of the European train network. I can see it now: "Hey David, how was that trip to Europe? Is the Quarter Pounder really called a Royal with Cheese?" "Yep," he'll say with satisfaction. Good thing alot of train stations have McDonalds.
The two Americans fairly accurately reflect the way we travel. Anything that can be checked off a to-do list, such as countries or museums, is good. They feel they made the most of their vacations. I mean, come on, how many more countries could David have fit in? My question is this: Is a vacation really supposed to be productive? Isn't that what you're taking a vacation from?
Australian travellers largely reflect their national character too. Their to-do list isn't museums and countries, its bars and beer. Days are marked for recovery. The vacation happens at night. For Spanish speakers it revolves around cigarettes, food and lots of sleep. The French are always looking for some out of the way place that takes three days to get to where there is said to be great climbing and hiking...and they are usually smoking a cigarette. The Korean girls are the best. They never say a word to anyone, giggle everytime you walk by, and never leave the hostel. They are only qualified to comment intelligently on the state of cheap European hotel rooms.
So...we finally got to Bucharest. I went to a hostel and caught a quick nap after a long trip. David caught another train to Prague and checked Romania off his list. He never even stopped in a city, but he has been to Romania...technically.
Thursday, August 08, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Saturday, August 03, 2002
posted by Kellio |
This is a continuation of the previous entry on July 29:
I was at the station huddled under an overhang trying to stay dry. At moments like these, one thinks the worst. You have no initiative. I froze up and did what one always does in such situations: wait for something to happen.
I was wet now; it was raining thick and dark. I couldn't see anything but silhouettes. A man walked out the door with a package. "Where you go?" he asked. I told the truth, always a dangerous proposition: "I don't know." "2 lev. We go my car."
I didn't have 2 lev, only 20, which is often the same as being completely broke. No one ever has change. "Ok," I shrugged, which broke every travel rule I have: Strange man approaches you at the train station carrying a large package and offers to take you for a ride...always say no. But facing the alternative of standing in a cold rain in front of the train station for the rest of the night, I suppose it was the lesser of two evils.
He had a Lada, which leaked badly, and there were tools everywhere. With his 10 word vocabulary I made out that he only studied one year of English, but made a 100% and liked to practice. We passed into town...a good sign. We stopped at an intersection and it was black and rainy...a bad sign. "You sleep my house 10 lev. We go hotel, maybe 30 lev. You want my house or hotel?"
Hmm...my brain lit up with every possibility in the universe and I felt lightheaded and decided that if you're going to break rules, break them all in a grand fashion and reap the benefits. I recalled all the stories I've heard of people being drugged, robbed, kidnapped and left in the middle of nowhere, so I said, "Ok, your house," and we turned away from town. I experienced the euphoria one feels after making a potentially disasterous, but wickedly fun, decision. And I became paranoid.
"Where are you from what do you do how old are you I came from Istanbul its nice but I like Bulgaria better (a lie)," I said in one giddy breath eyeing his mail. Were there drugs in the package? Maybe the gun he'll use to kidnap me? I was trying to pay attenetion to the direction in case I had to make a run for it. Why did he keep looking in the rear view mirror? Is looking in your mirror a lot really all that suspicious, or am I just paranoid? I blurted out some more jibberish to distract myself, "I love Bulgaria the people are very nice no one speaks English I can't read the signs."
We stopped outside an apartment building. "You wait. I go talk to my woman. Maybe she not ok." I was in the car alone, but feeling good about the wife thing. I fished around his car, but found nothing suspicious except my own wandering mind.
He returned what seemed like hours later. George had a nice apartment, big by European standards, a wife named Melina, and a son, Martin. I felt good. We sat around the table and I showed them pictures from Turkey while Melina brought out some food: oversalted sliced cucumbers and a barely cooked egg. I hadn't eaten for 8 hours so it was excellent and I became giddier still on account of the sudden rush of nourishment. Through odd and infrequent meals, bursts of activity, long waits, noise and no sleep, travel causes violent mood swings. I found myself caught up anyway.
"You drink alcohol?" asked George. A beer would be great before bed, "Sure," I nodded as I bounced Martin on my knee and spoke too fast for anyone to understand. Melina brought out two shot glasses and a non-descript bottle with a pale yellow liquor.
This is the part of the movie where you cringe and the dumb tourist gets drugged and robbed. Twice in Istanbul alone I heard stories of drugged drinks and waking the next morning with nothing.
He had a glass too and I saw her pour it so I made a toast to our health and drank. He only took a sip and set the glass down. The mind plays tricks on you if you let it, and sometimes even when you don't. Was I feeling strange? Yeah, a little. But I took a shot of strong liquor, so maybe its normal? Was I getting sleepy? Hmm...I'd been sleepy anyway, it was a long day. I couldn't place anything threatening or non-threatening so I just imagined stuff.
Luckily, nothing odd happened. Breaking the rules doesn't always catch up with you. Risk = Reward. Big Risk = Big Reward. Breaking the Rules = Rock Star Fun and Drug Dealer Profits. Of course, there is the significant flipside to those equations, but we are preached the dogma of those from age 0 until we forget that safety and caution are easy substitutes for boredom and old age. Fun and profit have a cost.
George is a civilian working with the military. "We break rockets. Last year automatics (rifles)." Bulgaria is meant to join NATO. Although, to me, you'd want a military ally to have rockets and guns, it seems NATO doesn't see the value of a military ally with a military. I am a simple fellow though and certainly not meant for politics.
George has a good job and is richish by Bulgarian standards. He counts himself lucky to have a job, but is worried about the future because they are running out of things to dissasemble. His wife shared that there are several good beaches on the Black Sea. I was, according to them, the first tourist in their home and George picked me up because he felt sorry for me standing out in the rain looking lost. I even found out the contents of the mysterious package. It was a Bulgarian sweet bread sent from Melina's mother in the south. We ate some and I slept very peacefully after another shot of the homemade liquor (turns out its a plum brandy called Polenca which is the most horrible thing I've ever tasted, including the cough medicine I used to take when I was little).
Monday, July 29, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I am sitting on the castle walls. Bulgar kings ruled Bulgaria from Veliko Turnovo for over 200 years ending in 1393. By the looks of it they haven't done much since. Like all old towns, it was built on a river in a valley, and I'm just sort of sitting here watching the Soviet Ladas labour up the hill. All Ladas have tool kits in the trunk and all Lada owners are amateur mechanics. Bulgarians don't replace something unless its broken and if something breaks they fix it. So everything is old. A Bulgarian told me the only thing a Lada is good for is spare parts for another Lada.
The one remarkable and vibrant thing in Bulgaria is the forest. What a forest!! Many things here are very old, like the castle; the rest was built by the Soviets 50 years ago. There isn't anything else, just cracked stucco buildings of brown and gray and the red mission tile roofs. Its like an agreement with the forest: it swallows everything except brown stucco buildings with red tile roof. It will eventually swallow this road below me. The river on my right has no banks. The black forest grows right up to the edge. It will be a swamp in 50 years. If they let ivy grow up the sides of the buildings, you could camouflage the whole country. Maybe thats what the Soviets had in mind, but they lost. The forest swallowed Communism too. And now all thats left is rusted iron, Ladas, empty factories, smokestacks, and railroad tracks crisscrossing the country, leading nowhere, past stations with no roads, harsh flourescent lights on rusted placards naming some desperate isolated villiage perched in the mountains fighting the forest all whispering the broken promise of Communism. Perhaps the whole country is sulking.
I've heard that Communism was a good idea, just that the implementation was bad. As I watch a Peugeot taxi tow a broken Lada up the hill, I have to disagree. It is against human nature to expect a man to work harder for an abstract concept than he will for his own self interest. Any system including such an idea will eventually need a tow from a Peugeot taxi.
I initially found Bulgaria incredibly quaint and rustic, but I've changed my mind. Yesterday I visited the "traditional" village of Koprivstitsa. There they carry on in the old Bulgarian way of life...but that is only true if there is a new Bulgarian way of life. There isn't. The old and the new are the same. Koprivstitsa isn't traditional...its just old. Its like retro clothing. If kids rediscover old styles its cool. If some dude in his middle 50s is still wearing the stuff from the last time it was popular...thats just pathetic.
The only remarkable and vibrant thing in Bulgaria is the forest...and the train...it isn't vibrant, but it is remarkable. Yesterday I was 7 hours on the train for 2 dollars and changed at 3 stations. We left late cause the train was broken. I saw the conductor beating a rusted metal rod on the platform...it must've worked. Being 45 minutes late I didn't think I'd make my connections, which were only 5 minutes per station. All the other trains were late too so it didn't matter. Bulgarians nod their head for no and shake it for yes...so it happened like this: I pointed at the train, "Karlovo?" They shook their head. "Tulovo?" They shook their head. "Veliko Turnovo?" Same head shake. We are conditioned to think head shakes mean no. I couldn't help it. Every stop it was the same crisis: I'm on the wrong train, until I remembered that head shakes mean yes. Then I'd forget 2 minutes later and it was back to the same thing.
10:30 pm I arrived in Veliko Turnovo. It was raining a hard gray heavy Soviet rain. It was dark and the station is 5 km from town. I think the Soviet Central Planners saw the city one day growing to meet it. They had big ideas, a great vision of a coming Empire. I was cold and wet and alone with the dark and rain. All the Lada taxis were either gone or broken. My spirits were very low and I also felt a little ridiculous.
Friday, July 26, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Koprivstitsa is a time warp. There isn't one single thing that speaks of the last 50 years. The attention to detail is striking, like a movie set...nothing modern, no anachronisms. Old Russian cars and horse drawn carriages...no bus stop...no train station...not a single sign in English. Tractors dragging bails of hay in wooden carts...children at play unattended (the boys at least, the girls just watch the boys and look like budding prostitutes). I haven't met one person that speaks English. The guidebook told me the name of a hostal, but I couldn't find it cause I can't read Cyrillic. I must've walked past it 20 times.
I don't yet know how to leave town. I can't read the bus and train schedules, if that is even what they are...I tried to find Tourist Information. There is a hole in the ground where the guidebook says it is...so I walked into a building nearby...maybe they moved it? There was an old lady behind a counter and, in the Bulgarian tradition, 4 or 5 others just sort of sitting around...again, no English. I drew pictures of a bus and a train and explained by map that I wanted to go to Veliko Turnovo. An argument broke out between the three old women. The little girl kept tugging at my wrist. I don't think she'd ever seen a digital watch. They eventually pantomimed that I couldn't get to Veliko Turnovo from here and that I'd need to backtrack to Sophia. I didn't have the heart to ask how to get to Sophia.
It dawned on me as I left that it wasn't Tourist Information at all. Perhaps I had wandered into someone's house? I thought that old lady was behind a counter, but maybe it was just a table? There was a label on the building, but maybe it was just a street sign?
I'm sitting at dinner now. Its cold here, just 7 hours from the blistering heat of Istanbul. Sophia is the highest capital city in Europe and the villiage is higher still. I can't read a thing on the menu and the sluty waitress only understands the word "beer", so I just point and hope . Tonight I've eaten 2 types of kebab and a fried cheese dish. I love cheese, but it makes me sick if I eat too much. I can also say that the 2 Bulgarian beers I've tried, whose names are in the indecipherable Cyrillic script, are very good.
I am the only backpacker in town and nearly the only tourist. This town will be gone in 10 years. Its clean...better than quaint and picturesque. Its like Swiss Family Robinson meets the Sound of Music. In 5 years it will be full...horseback riding and marked hiking trails...buses and trains and signs in English...and alot more trash. On the way in today it was like a glimpse behind the Iron Curtain...defaced busts of Lenin and Stalin...the Soviet Star on stark square buildings...railroad tracks everwhere and empty stations waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of Communism...factories with heavy rusted signs in the hard Cyrillic script and smoke from smokestacks. Maybe they make buttons or screws or black boots...something repetitive and significant. "What do you do Comrade Joseph?" "I make shoestrings for the greater glory of Russia." A good trade, noble and concrete. "What do you do Comrade Elliott?" "Well...I get overeducated and question the significance of everything alot. Then I travel around the world trying to sort out the mess I've made of my own head." It makes shoestrings sound like a good idea.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
posted by Kellio |
The bus ran into the Canadian from Iraq visiting family in Istanbul and Bulgaria. He was an irritable man anyway, chomping on sunflower seeds from the seat behind me half the night. The two young boys in front had invisible ray guns and were pretending to blast each other, using their embarrassed mothers as cover. Had I spoke Bulgarian, I would've informed them that ray guns are actually silent weapons, and don't make the terrible shrill they were supposing. I couldn't help wishing they were real ray guns. Perhaps they would blast one another and shut up. Luckily kids tire, unluckily not before my patience did. The bus arrived in what I assumed was Sophia at 4 in the morning and emptied. I was tired, puffy eyed and lost...very lost. I had one of those moments...wished I were somewhere else...the Cyrillic alphabet is no better than Chinese...couldn't read anything...everything was closed...I froze up, but didn't panic...too tired for panic. I must've looked pitiful, because the bus driver took pity and locked me in an empty bus till morning.
Next morning...same shit, different day...except now I'm rested...but hungry...with no money. I am thinking of going to another city or to Romania cause I can't be bothered so I start asking at the kiosks for buses to Koprivshtitsa. There are hundreds of kiosks with destinations all in Cyrillic. No one speaks English. My pack is heavy. I am hungry. Some people said there are no buses to Koprivstitsa, some said only trains, and some said one bus at 4 oclock, but you can't buy the ticket at any of the hundreds of ticket kiosks, only on the bus. I have since guessed that the bus kiosks aren't for tickets at all, but booths for really young, scantily clad Bulgarian women to put on make up...which is all I ever saw them do. Maybe its like the red light district in Amsterdam. I thought the prices they were quoting were a little high for the bus.
Young Bulgarian women tend to look like anorexic Russian prostitutes. I mean that in the best possible way. They dress sluty, have sharp blue eyes and pouty red lips. The others dress sluty, have deep brown eyes, and forget to wear a bra. The Peace Corp volunteer I met at breakfast at KFC told me to subtract 5 years from any age they give you. Personally, I'd rather he hadn't told me.
Unfortunately, Bulgarian women age poorly. It seems they all eventually gravitate toward the archetype old fat lady with a mustache, stooped over, in a gray house dress, wandering the city peddling flowers and begging for money. According to the Peace Corp volunteers it is very common for older men to date these slender 18 year old princesses (subtracting 5 years would make them 13).
I mentioned to the Peace Corp folks that Bulgaria was cheap. "Not as cheap as Zimbabwe." Why were they in Zimbabwe? "What were you doing in Zimbabwe?" "We were volunteers there." Wow. "You signed on for another 2 years?" "No, we got kicked out of Zimbabwe...that's why we're here...only been here 5 weeks." After the comment about the age of Bulgarian women I decided not to ask why they got kicked out of Zimbabwe.
Next I went to the train station and got help from a janitor. He showed me a bunch of stuff that ended up being of no use, but we passed an ATM and baggage check during the tour, so I got rid of my pack and scored some cash. I bought him a half liter of beer as thanks. It was 8:30 in the morning.
Walking through town I bought some batteries for my walkman for 50 cents. They lasted 10 minutes. 5 people were working in the shoe shop all watching each other do nothing. There were 11 in KFC, but only one register was open. Its about a buck for a value meal at McDonalds. I went to a museum; they gave me 15 tickets to enter a one room exhibit. I bought a great Soviet liquor flask with a KGB insignia for $5. Old Nazi stuff is pretty expensive. I can't stop writing because its only 15 cents for an expresso. I'm wired on coffee and my waitress looks like an anorexic Russian prostitute.
Sunday, July 21, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I tried to pass time last night by drinking. I even went so far as to listen to some ill-informed, closed minded Indian Brit rant about American abuse of power. (I've never heard that conversation before.) Apparently its all a conspiracy by the US government and Israel to control the world. I think he once called me a capitalist, but I forgot to be offended. He also implied I was amoral. I offerred to buy him a beer and I think he forgave me.
I threw scraps at the conversation, enough to keep him going, which wasn't hard. It was like a well practiced speech. He said he wanted to be a journalist so as to have a forum to express his opinions. I suggested he get his own opinions instead of repeating what he's heard from other paranoid, self reinforcing, conspiracy theory junkies. Its like they want to believe.
He told me the US Founding Fathers were a bunch of power hungry racists bent on overthrowing the British Empire. "All the Founding Fathers were white. The constitution is a racist document." I went a step further: Perhaps the Founding Fathers were all Freemasons descended from the line of Kind David. The Constitution was based on documents found beneath the Sphinx during The Crusades that survived the City of Atlantis. If folded into the shape of a Jewish star, the Constitution reveals the blueprints for a flying saucer, the location of the Ark of the Covenant and dates for the End of the World. If the Constitution is read backwards it contains subliminal messages and, of course, all the Founding Fathers were abducted by aliens.
"A plane never crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. It was staged. There is just too much evidence against it." I granted his "too much evidence" for the sake of argument and suggested that the evidence against was also staged and that he was actually playing right into Their hands. "After all, if They are smart enough to secretly coordinate world history, They are smart enough to plant conspiracies. By the time you smell a rat, the real conspiracy has already moved on." If he were a robot, that is when the smoke would have started coming out his ears.
He didn't find me nearly as clever as I did, so I offerred to buy another round of drinks to keep myself interested. For someone of as little faith as I, it amazes me what people will believe without evidence or in the face of contrary evidence. I question everything...even that statement.
I made him sound more and more ridiculous, but he continued unphazed and unmoved. I sort of admired him. I can make anyone sound ridiculous anyway. Its an annoying talent, and I wish I didn't enjoy it so much.
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Sorry for the lack of updates. I'm tending to various matters in Istanbul at the moment. I've got a lazy idea. There aren't a whole lot of people still checking the site, or I suspect just a small number over and over again. Will you please write me an email telling me what you're up to, what you think about whatever, or just something so I won't feel so isolated like I sometimes do? It'll also give me an idea of the people that I'm writing these silly entries to (dangling preposition). Be good.
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I've decided I will have my head shaved today and rent a bicycle. Cappadocia is an alien landscape, a science fiction desert. Last night I saw whirling dervishes and belly dancers in an underground cave. There was food, drink, dancing and jumping through fire.
I committed the unthinkable tourist faux pas yesterday and bought a Turkish carpet. They are beautiful and I likely paid too much, but I am happy until someone tells me its a fake you can buy at Wal Mart. But you can buy just about everything at Wal Mart I guess. Perhaps they'll turn into family heirlooms?
Mustafa, from the carpet shop, told me fabulous stories about how much money there is in carpets. After how much I paid, I think I believe him. "There is alot of money in buying and selling things," he said. Later in the evening, when we were watching one of the belly dancers, he said, "You see the gypsies playing the music? They're fucking stoned out of their mind. And the belly dancer: when I used to drink a bottle of liquor and six beers a day my friends and I would get her to dance for us by a fire with barbeque and we would get stoned all night with the gypsies. It was great fun. One night I gave her an 800 dollar tip." He told several more fabulous stories of love and loss and we all got drunk and watched the dervishes. He is only 26 and I believed his stories for some reason. Hiroshi told me the economy in Japan is very bad and it costs 15 dollars to see a movie in Kyoto. Japanese people can make me nervous. They huddle and nod and move around too much, shifty and overly self conscious. I liked Hiroshi; he didn't even have a camera with him. He made fun of some other Japanese tourists: "Japanese very bad dancers."
Sunday, July 07, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I was walking through a river to reach a bank. Trees, flowers, rocks, water, like an unkept Japanese Gargen. There was a bald guy with white robes and a goatee standing perfectly still, meditating. "Surely American," I thought, "We're the only ones capable of losing our minds so completely." There were 2 Turks smoking cigarettes and I spoke to them as the monk was busy contemplating his divine serenity. "Hello." They offerred me a cigarette. "No thanks. I don't smoke, very few Americans do." They looked puzzled, "Americans don't smoke? Marlboro, Camel, Winston..." "Yeah. We make the cigarettes, but we sell 'em to you guys to smoke." There was some muttering about capitalism, the monk woke himself from the trance and they started solving the problems of the world. The young, the poor and the idealistic never tire of this conversation. Oh the empires that crumble and the wrongs that are righted over a few shared cigarettes between strangers on foreign soil. Of course, I don't smoke, so I refused to take up the mantle of Capitalism and big business explotation, which is the role an American is generally due in such converstations. I think they were disappointed...you know, it leaves nothing concrete for them to point a finger at, which is part of the problem in the first place...like ghosts in the dark.
They were very adamant about everything and it was universally agreed that pretty much everything is a "big problem". With that point I can hardly argue and I hated to interrupt their impromptu anti-everything pep rally, but I had to occasionally ask: so what is the alternative? I nodded and smiled and my internal dialouge went about like this: It would create more problems that it would solve...has already been tried and didn't work...or...Wow, that is simply the worst idea I have ever heard.
It turns out the monk wasn't an American, but an ex-lawyer from Belgium and he wasn't an absolute flake, or at least he said one thing that struck me as significant...but even a broken clock is right twice a day. "Beautiful day," I said to the Turks as I pointed out the beautiful day. They nodded and ashed their cigarettes unconciously. "Where are you staying?" They named some place I didn't recognize and asked me. "I'm staying at Kadir's in the treehouses. Its great. Why aren't you staying there?" "No money. Too expensive." Kadir's is about 7 bucks for a bed and 2 meals a day. It struck me that tourism has made many beautiful spots in Turkey too expensive for the Turks to visit. They continued, "Money is a big problem in Turkey. People have no money." Although I am not inclined to listen much to someone who needs so much practice breathing, the monk said something that made me think twice: "Thats nothing. In Turkey money is a big problem. In Europe everything is a big problem."
I didn't hear the rest of the conversation. I was replaying stuff in my head: Ali that owned Oludeniz Camping, the Turkish Gullet people, a bunch of stuff. In Turkey it seems if one can get a little money, one can be happy. In America, money is only the beginning of our problems.
And that is how it is: In countries that lack money they seem to know better what to do with it. At home, money is simply the key to participate in the next, more complicated set of problems.
I remember what Ali said: "So this place is only open 6 months a year? What do you do the rest of the year?" He shrugged his shoulders and looked past me, likely picturing in his head some Turkish version of the perfect day. "Why six months? Why not 7 or 8?" "We don't need to open more. We leave the campground open for people...nothing else." I pressed the issue: "If you stayed open all year you could make more money." I knew the answer before he said it: "Why? I already have 6 months vacation."
His logic is impeccable and flies directly in the face of western economic dogma: Unrecognized profit is a sin. It is inefficient and lazy. In fact, if he is correct, some of the last 2 years of business school can be rethought in terms of indoctrination and social engineering. In short: a polite and voluntary brainwashing.
That doesn't invalidate the Capital Asset Pricing Model, nor does it change the present value of future cash flows...it simply recognizes an often overlooked truism: No fact is devoid of value judgment. Even the most benign carry implications and subjectivity.
Somewhere in that dialouge is a great idea. I am just too dumb to figure it out.
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
posted by Kellio |
This is what it feels like on the deck of a sailboat with a blistering fever when its 100 degrees outside:
My hand is so heavy...maybe a ton or more I estimate. I never realized the effort needed to lift it. Its so hot. I want to move it, but its blocking the sun. There is gonna be a mark on my forehead. My skin is swollen to consistency of silly putty. Am I dripping off the side of the deck? My hand is cutting through my forehead. It won't move; its gonna leave a mark. Am I really this heavy? There are people talking around me. Drip. Is that what people really sound like? Drip. I think I'm on fire, melting and running off the deck. I call faintly for someone to move my arm. It moves, and makes a big thud. Did anyone hear that? There is so much pressure in my head...maybe I'll just explode, like the spray on a breaking wave? These are nice people. They'll clean up. I wonder if someone can help me drink? My throat is on fire. Maybe I'm on fire and no one can get close enough. Drip. Fuck..I'm heavy...2 and a half tons...maybe even 4. In fever sometimes we think best. I want to move, but I can't. Am I getting heavier? Water is coming from my eyes; the pressure is squeezing it out. I want to make a noise, but I can't...too much effort. Am I still here? Perhaps they all left? How long has it been? Drip. I'm surely almost gone by now. Go through the motions and wait. It should be go through the motions, wait and hope. But sometimes hope is gone and so its just go through the motions and wait. The habit of self preservation is the strongest, violent and primal. It doesn't require hope...it is the bottom rung of every ladder....remembered when everything else is forgotten. Do I hear my name? There are people in the water. I'm too heavy...I'd sink like an anchor, but it would cool me off. I'm surely burning. Maybe they all abandoned ship. I hope I don't have to pay for it. I pick myself up with extreme, almost Olympic, effort. My eyes won't focus. Are people looking at me?
I threw myself overboard hoping I was right about the whole self preservation thing. The water leapt and hissed like lava running into the ocean. Everything rushed back into focus like a car wreck at 100 miles an hour, the water cooled me off and the saltiness released the pressure in my head.
I went downstairs to change clothes as one of the Australian girls asked a Turk for a beer. "What do you drink?" she asked pointing to the beer. "Later," he said in apparent comprehension. "No, what do you drink?" she asked more loudly to increase undestanding. He looked at her blankly, "Milk." I went to my berth, pissed, changed clothes and stared at myself a minute. When I returned she was still pointing at her beer, smiling and asking the same question. "I don't think he drinks," I surmised.
"Well," I thought to myself, "I didn't fry my brain. Life is just as ridiculous as it used to be."
-- Update: That was written a few days ago. The fever went away. I still have a little pressure in my head, but I'm better now. I slept for 30 hours straight at one point in a fever induced delirium. Not fun, but if it must be done, from a Turkish Gullet on a cruise up some of the most picturesque coastline I've ever seen is the way to go.
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I somehow convinced myself to get back on a boat for 4 more days for a cruise along the Turkish coast in keeping with one of my oldest and most dear personal platitudes: 'Try anything once. If you don't like it, try it once more just to make sure you didn't like it the first time.' I am now utterly convinced that I didn't miss my calling as a sea boat captain, but it was fun and the Turkish coast is more beautiful than the Greek Isles. The following is from my journal on the first day:
I've been in the Med for almost 2 months now and the weather is 85 to 90, sunny and near cloudless with a constant breeze...everyday. Today is the same.
The captain of the boat didn't want to stay long in Butterfly Valley. "I don't know...maybe only 30 minutes. No good today...bad weather...maybe worse later." "I want to see the butterflies," I said as we approached the white beach littered with white teepee like tents and tanned travellers in sirongs. "No more butterflies," said the Turk flatly. "Why not?" "No more...maybe 2 or 3." "What about the waterfall?" I asked. "Very little water."
After his complaints about the weather I decided to follow up on the matter and swam ashore to ask. "How long have you been here," I asked a girl swimming in the lagoon. "About a week and a half.." "Have you been up into the valley to see the butterflies?" "Nope...maybe tomorrow." "What about the waterfall?" "I heard it was nice..." she informed me.
The med school student from Chicago was more helpful. "...Yeah, heaps of butterflies, especially if you climb up the waterfall to the next ridge, but the climb is a bitch...really slippery." "From all the water?" I asked. "Yeah."
Friday, June 28, 2002
posted by Kellio |
We were all drunk on the beach around 4 listening to rave and watching people try to appear interested in what they were doing. A really young couple from Wales interrupted our silence. They were so loud and had such accents I could hardly understand...which meant the Turks had no fucking idea. My head was buried in the sand and I tried to appear asleep in the middle of a beach rave so they'd ignore me. I heard someone say, "...he is from South Carolina.." "I'm from Romania," I blurted. "Romania!" I added for reinforcement. My speech was slurred. "Then where'd you get that accent?" snapped the bird chick from Wales as if she'd outsmarted me. "I used to live in the states when I younger. Romania is very good country. I am from Romania," I emphasized in a thickly slurred southern accent and buried my head again in the sand. The young guy from Wales was bored and threw some sand on my leg so I'd talk to him. "Sit up and be social..." he demanded in the near pidgen Welsh English as he continued to toss sand on my legs, perhaps just out of habit. I picked up a big handful and threw it at him. He ignored me at first, but the second fistfull got his attention. "Didn't your mother teach you any manners?" I snapped. "What the hell is wrong with you?" he screamed. The Kiwi from Ireland chimed in, "Dont mind him. He's from Romania."
Tuesday, June 25, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Quick note: I'm getting some emails from people looking for jobs and going through all the motions of being a regular person and all that. Believe me...its nice to have it pointed out that I made a good decision to take a vacation and, however shallow, it makes me feel good when people say they envy me a bit....but there is a definite limit. I keep getting emails that start like this: "I am still looking for a job.....Columbia is lonely and complete shit....but I'm trying to keep a positive attitude..." Can you say depressing? Someone buy a ticket and come meet me in Istanbul for a week or so. Then the email can start like this: "So I met up with a friend outside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul shortly after noon...."
Today I had breakfast at 11:00, then went swimming to a bunch of nearby islands and soaked up some sun where I met some travellers who just came from Egypt and Syria by truck. Then I got a massage and lounged in a Turkish bath where I met a 21 year old middle eastern princess from Belarus with flawless skin and olive eyes who I'm gonna meet later at this bar with a pool that runs through the middle....if she shows up. (She isn't really a princess, but she should be)
They scrub you down with a brush at the bath to remove the dead skin. A month on a sailboat with infrequent salt water showers, a month of caked on sun tan lotion and sunburnt skin.....I almost wanted to apologize and explain why I was so dirty. The lady in the massage room told me I had a nice body, asked if I was married, and mentioned she had a daughter about my age. She was middle aged and not skinny, but vanity knows no age, so I felt good about it anyway.
Sunday, June 23, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I'm still in Rhodes, but leave tomorrow as I've hit my self imposed time limit for length of stay. I planned to leave the day I got here, but its hard to...well...anyway...I'll skip the details. It already seems like a year since I left the ship, and ten years since I was in Spain struggling to screw my head on straight again.
As I've been here longer than expected, I've had a chance to hear, and at times participate in, the hostal travel soap opera gossip. Pension Nassos is run by a half lit, intellectually flickering Greek of the same name that shares a room and bed with his ever-bitching Bulgarian "sister" Tina whose brother was recently hospitalized, which didn't really seem to affect Nassos. He also shared with us that she is a fucking bitch and we should no tell her nothing...I haven't yet figured what I could say that would be of interest to either of them.
The two Nigereans from Athens that sell pirated CDs in the streets and have both proposed marriage to the girl, Becky, who has kept me in town, refused to pay Nassos until they get more money, which prompted a shouting match this morning, preceded by the one with Tina at around 8am.
Nassos has also proposed marriage to Becky in the form of a business deal in which she gets a Greek passport, runs the hostal and gets free internet for life in exchange for....well, I suppose, in exchange for Nassos sitting around getting fatter and more dim witted while someone else does all the work....maybe he isn't so dumb after all?
There is a Yugoslavian that sells henna tatooes who assures me that Yugoslavia is the greatest country in the world. "Yugoslavia have everything, except money. We have no money. I come to Greece for work." He recently finished his mandatory army service, which meant he was there during the ethnic cleansing and Milosevic. He apologized profusely and was greatly animated in that Yugoslavians are not killers and that it was a bad thing, very bad. Although I profess a healthy ignorance of all but the most basic facts in world politics...it was obvious from his broken english and emphatic hand gestures that he and his country bear some pretty serious guilt from the whole matter and I even wonder if maybe he actually participated in some of it. He also shared with me that Yugoslavian women are the best in the world, especially in the summer when they wear skimpy clothes. "They are like boom, the best," he informed me with a wink.
The Albanian, Donny, also came to Greece for work. That makes me wonder at the state of Eastern Europe. I think Greece has the highest unemployment in the EU. Donny has educated me in The Albanian Way, which seems to be a complicated set of rules that govern life and behavior. Rule #1: Always have a beer, and invite everyone that you even slightly know to sit and have one with you. I tried politely to refuse several times, but he informed me that I couldn't, it was The Albanian Way. Its hard to argue with that logic. Rule #2: Always smoke a cigarette. Rule #3: Be very macho. Donny is a good man and I am struck by the obvious simplicity of The Abanian Way of life. He also told me that Albania is shit although it used to be a very great country, and, of course, the women are the most beautiful in the world.
I won't comment much on my part in the hostal gossip, but just say that it was great fun.
Thursday, June 20, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Hmm....I'm so far behind I don't know where to start. I think I just made like 4 posts. I'm in Rhodes, Greece. Meant to leave today for Turkey, but I met a girl last night so I'll probably stick around a few days. They are on strike in Greece. I haven't paid much attention because it seems they're always striking about something in Europe, the end result being the most predictable: People don't work for a few days. Perhaps thats what they were striking about in the first place? I've asked a few Greeks and none seem to know what its about. It was supposed to end yesterday, but they are late in getting it all organized. Bet they weren't late starting it.
Alot of the travellers at the hostel are upset cause they can't leave the island. The ferries aren't running. But the airplanes are and so are the hydrofoils, but they don't go to Santorini or Eos or Mykonos so thats no help to most people. And the international ferries (to Turkey for example) are still running so it doesn't really affect me. I have had a good time making fun of the complainers though. No one really has anywhere to be. Why not just get drunk, go see some castle or go to the beach and forget about it? So what if you don't go to Santorini? I imagine the post card is better than the experience anyway. How many volcanic islands with whitewashed villages perched on the side do you need to see before they all start running together? I understand though. I was the same way.
posted by Kellio |
This was yesterday:
I am so used to the noise and bustle that my ears are ringing in the quiet. I'm in a hostal dorm room with a backpack beside every bed and a guidebook on every table. Inside every one is someone's story and a unique window to their personality. You learn things about people on the road it would easily take years to find out otherwise. I slept on the deck again last night and left the boat today. I've seen what I wanted of the sailing lifestyle. Being at anchor in a lagoon or pulling into a new port is nice..the rest of it is salt, movement, damp cramped spaces, and and unending shades of blue. Did I mention movement?
I might talk more about why I left later, but I don't feel like it right now. Leaving was not that sad and I felt that it should've been more so. I am alone and travelling again, today, for the first time, without a destination or particular time limit. As all good plans certainly start with a cup of coffee, I sat today with a Turkish cup and tried to connect dots on the map of Europe with estimated travel times and modes of transport. Its very peaceful and exciting at the same time to visualize the not so distant travel future where you are sitting in some foreign city, very far away...certainly still drinking a cup of coffee. It might be Russia or Poland, likely in Romania or Bulgaria. Its hot today, probably around 90...I'm dark enough now that I don't have to worry about sunburn. I need a shower...the saltwater afternoon swims hardly count...especially after having worn the same tshirt and shorts for such time as I can't even recall.
I almost felt great for a while today...like a release. I figure its not about the places or even so much the perpetual state of transit, although that is nice. The release mostly comes from unexpected surprises...when strangers smile, when you meet someone new and talk like old friends from the start...or a few folks sharing stories or food without pretense, boast, or thought of reciprocation. I guess its more than a little about restoring faith in mankind. When, even for an instance, I feel the universe nudge softly...when I forget its often cruel ambivalence...or perhaps better said: when I forgive it.
posted by Kellio |
I'm somewhere off the coast of Crete, near an old leper colony. It sits on a very little island off to my left. Its all stone and fairly well preserved. The buildings grow out of the rock, and follow, more or less, the lay of the land. It may be only 200 square yards in area, terraced with the occasional patch of small windswept olive trees, which I assume they once cultivated. I wouldn't buy olives grown by lepers. Am I a bad person for being prejudiced against people whose limbs tend to fall off?
We are anchored perhaps 75 feet away. I am contemplating swimming to the island (which I later did)
. I wonder if you can still catch leprosy? Headline: "Dumb American tourist dies of leprosy in the Greek Isles. 1st reported case in over 50 years."
Not how I want to go out. I told Magnus that if I fell ill to please tell everyone I died saving a group of small children from a burning building. I figure lepers have closed casket funerals anyway.
About an hour ago a bunch of tourists arrived in their metal sardine cans and herded off to see the leper colony. I remember years back there were times I passed in a bus as two kids sped by laughing on a motorcycle or I left for the train station as someone told me their story of hitchhiking across the orient or I stopped to look out over the grand canyon and there was a raft at the bottom with a couple camped, cooking next to a small fire. Most of the folks direct their attention to the picturesque, resort-like, quaintly dilapidated leper colony as they approach, but on every boat there are a few that ignore it altogether and stare at us, as I relax, eat a banana, and write about them. Its nice to not be always on the outside looking in. Its the romanticism anyway. I realize that the couple rafting the Grand Canyon were probably wet, tired, sunburnt and cranky after a scorching day in a small raft carrying all their equipment, bumping down the river. They could've just been fired and it was some ill-planned mid-life crisis attempt at escape. Perhaps they would've traded places in preference of the quiet highway and air conditioned car in a Jack Kerouac Route 66 Thelma and Louise type fantasy. Its awful hard not to play the "grass is always greener" game. Its alot easier though when you've visited the other pasture.
Anyway, its about 80 degrees with a strong constant breeze. All in all, what a typical day should be sailing the Greek Isles: refined and extravagant indolence.
posted by Kellio |
This is from my journal as we left Malta:
The ship is rolling like a pig in a mud bath. The port authority issued a small boat warning this morning, but as we were sailing with the wind, we left anyway. 30 knot gale force winds and a near perfect, blue cloudless sky as we left the harbour. We made 9 knots in consistent 25 foot rolling waves. They crept up behind the boat like behemoths, seemingly always at the point of breaking right on top of us. The air was thick with spray and a moist, gritty coat of salt covered everything, including me. The palms of my hands shrunk up as the salt pulled the moisture out. The waves passed and we occasionally caught a few, surfing in a yacht at up to 12 knots. My arms are tired from being at the helm the last hour and a half. This is by far the most the boat has rolled left to right. Stefen cooked a great Swedish dish tonight. The new lady threw it back up right after she ate it, all pale and disoriented. She has been sick all day. Damn landlubbers.....hehehehe.
It was amazing as we passed a crest, started down the back of the wave and up the front of the next. The waves blotted the horizon and were above the level of the ship...like a fucking mountain, avalanche wall of deep ocean blue, 25 feet high and 1/2 a mile long, frothing and gurgling, shining and looming. I was certain they were going to land on my head and carry me out to sea. When you're in the trough of a wave larger than a city block with no horizon, its like you're in a moving, ever-collapsing pit veiled with a waving silver net from the reflections of the sun....and its water on all sides....its awesome and I felt small as fuck all. When I was at the wheel I just watched the compass and tried to hold a line...like when you are climbing...just don't look down...or up in my case.
Friday, June 14, 2002
posted by Kellio |
posted by Kellio |
I'm in Crete. We arrived this morning and I had the 3am to 6am watch. I'm still awake....my eyes burn. I'm having some logistical issues with the trip right now, so that pretty much shoots today in the foot. I had only planned to go see some Minoan ruins at Knossos. Ruins all tend to look the same after a while...ruined. Maybe I'll watch a show about it on the Travel Channel one day and be able to turn to whoever is there and comment, "You know...I almost went there one time.."
Here are some comments on Malta:
Malta is a very cool little country. It is all the same color of soft beige sandstone, almost like it was carved out of one big rock, but for the occasional fellow that decides to paint his rock a color and the TV antennas on everyone's roof. If you can get a nice perch and look over a residential section its like an ocean of TV antennas. I bet they're watching futbol. Apparently Italy lost to Croatia the other day and it was a very exciting game.
The Maltese people are handsome. They look Turkish and maybe a little Jewish...with black hair, olive skin, and green and blue eyes...or more simply stated: the guys all look like guidos and the chicks are hot, with pouty little lips. Malta was a former British colony and there are also a lot of Brits, who look out of place and sunburned. Apparently their language is of Semitic descent, but the street signs are all in English and most everyone speaks it with an Italian accent. They drive on the wrong side of the road and I find myself scared of getting run over...which has almost happened several times. I look the wrong waybefore crossing the street. I should've listened to my mom.
Some chick really pissed me off in a cafe the other day when I was trying to help this Swedish guy with his email. I've got a terrible temper, but that's the first time I've let it boil like that in a long time. It made all the Swedish contingent nervous and they kept apologizing for me...even though it was all her doing (according to me). I eventually agreed when I realized I was acting like a dick...which I sort of suspected all along. I talked myself into silently settling the score by walking out without paying for my lunch. I haven't done anything like that in years....7 years actually.
We lost a crew member to the real world, and picked up two more: a couple from Sweden. They're nice and the guy lived on a kibbutz in the seventies so we have something in common. I don't have any Maltese lira left, so I walked around today with only enough money for a little bread, a few cappuchinoes and a bus ride back to the port from wherever it was that I would be when I decided I was tired and it was time to go back. I think I saw some important fort, but I don't know. I passed a few museums too...they were nice....from the outside. I didn't feel like going in.
I feel like I'm on some sort of really long ride at Disney World sometimes. I walked into this really cool renovation of an old castle/fort and there was no one there. So I looked at the artwork and used the brand new bathrooms and sat for a sec at their lookout over the city and left. It was vacant of people. I kept waiting for someone to throw me out. It even had a ticket booth. Like an exhibit at Disney World that wasn't quite finished.
Saturday, June 08, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I'm in Malta, left Tunis two days ago. It took 4 and a half days at sea from Mallorca to get to Tunis. I'm reminded that the Middle East can be a fantastically difficult and frustrating place due to the overwhelming, seemingly inborn and instinctive, Arab inclination to try and cheat the fuck out of you at every opportunity. It took me all of about 10 minutes to get irate and belligerent....after which time I made proper fun of the situation, which allowed me a non-violent cathartic release.
Alot has happened and there hasn't been access to the Internet. Here is the first entry in my personal journal from the boat:
I have been terribly seasick since we rounded the point in Mallorca. I vomited six times yesterday and once today. Since I have not eaten or drunk more than the tiny bits to satsify the crew that I am not dying (which I might be); I do not fear of vomiting on anything. I wear glasses and a hat all day so no one can see my bloodshot eyes nor the sweat beading on my pale, clammy forehead. I know its odd, but sitting in the tiny toilet, staring at my own vomit, tasting my salty sweat mixed with sun tan lotion, I thought about all the immigrants, most first time sailors, young and full of hope on that trip to the new world. I figure it would take 20-25 days to cross the Atlantic. One could easily die of dehydration in just a few days in my condition. I don't know how the three final days to Tunis will be. I sit here, half nauseated, considering if I should consider leaving the ship. Is it possible to live the next 7 weeks without food or water? I believe this is the longest in my life I've ever been. Forget diet plans. Learn to sail.
That was already a while ago now. Of course, I survived...after abour 32 hours without food or drink. That's the story of how I earned my sealegs. Things are good aboard Jennifer. I could talke forever about what life is like under sail. I do find myself walking funny for the first few minutes on land after days at sea. You expect it to give a little.
There is of course medicine for motion sickness, which I don't have. Luckily 2 of the 6 passengers are doctors. Unluckily, the best medicine in the world is about as useful as a bucket with a hole in bottom if you can't keep it down. I considered crushing it up and snorting a pill while no one was looking.
The bed is my safe haven and I've made good use of it over the past day and a half. Close your eyes, lie supine and horizontal and the world disappears...along with your seasickness. If it were not for this curious fact, they would have needed to turn the boat around and that would have been the end of Elliott's little sailing adventure.
The cockpit of the ship is slightly less nauseating (that's the part exposed to air, but not the deck). It is easy to stare at the deep ocean blue, watch the 4 foot, slow moving waves that never quite crest and feel the boat roll along patiently over and through them at a 20 to 25 degree pitch......and imagine the inside of your stomach churning in orchestral unison. And it is relentless. I have yet to walk on land again, but I am sure that I will expect it to move when I do. The motion is everpresent. Movement is a factor in every decision. I pee sitting down. There are small bruises on my hips and arms from bumping into everything. At a 20 degree incline, even setting your cup down while you attempt to eat is a factor. Has the kitchen ever moved while you tried to cook? (I've since learned that the boat only pitches so when you sail into the wind.)
The cabin is still a dark, dizzy mystery to me. I have seen almost nothing of it, which is a great pity because my clothes, the food, water, and restrooms are down there in its bowels. As I descend the stairs into its depths I feel a reassuring, consistent wave of nausea. Yesterday I estimate 10 - 15 seconds in the cabin equals another visit to the toilet. This morning I jumped from bed and ran immediately to the cockpit to start my 9:00 watch. I forgot my hat and sunglasses and I had to use the bathroom. I waited for a good moment, when I didn't feel so sick...rushed down into the depths of the cabin, grabbed my glasses and hat, went to the toilet, dropped my pants, starting to feel sick, start peeing, feeling sick but if I hurry I might be able to rush back to the cockpit in time, almost finished....too late....dry heaving into the sink, sweating, with my pants at my knees. I shake my head and smile...you feel better after you throw up, but there is only a short window. I cleaned up and rushed back upstairs to the cockpit to take my turn at the wheel.
Wednesday, May 29, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Most of my personal journal is filled with endless musing about myself, my moods, and comments about previous comments. Sometimes I get tired of that, but since I largely enjoy the physical act of writing, I choose simply to write about what I see. I wrote this in a park in Madrid a few days ago.
I just saw a hip-hop dance contest in Plaza Espa�a and I�m still wandering around. I am really tired all of the sudden, so I sat down.
There are trees and lamposts and gigantic stone buildings which likely serve little purpose other than to demonstrate their largeness. There are statues of heroes and saints, children at play everywhere on improvised soccer fields, pigeons and little girls in skirts watching the boys. There are babies with pacifiers, old men with canes, adults with cell phones, people of all ages smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, teenagers juggling and dancing, japanese taking photos with their brand new digital cameras, tourists with maps and guide books trying to puzzle out where they are, kids with ice cream on their faces, little dogs trying not to get stepped on and lots of very beautiful women. The space is green and open and there is an overall impression of movement, comradery, and a chaotic, yet familiar, pattern arising out of hundreds of people just going about their business, doing their thing, on an ordinary, extremely beautiful saturday afternoon.
There are many things unduly romanticized about Europe. It is often dirty and overpriced. It is always under renovation and running late. But the amount of life and character packed into its parks, sidewalks and cafes is undeniable and a great pleasure to see.
Tonight I go by boat to Mallorca to meet the captain of my ship. I really like this hostal. Its my favorite in Spain.
Monday, May 27, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I am in Valencia. I fixed the computers of the hostal where I am so I�ll be here for free the next few days. Not that it was that expensive to begin with...its a dump really, but its got a friendly atmosphere if you can get past the wool blankets with no sheets, smelly toilets, concentration camp style dorm rooms, and preponderence of silly rules made necessary because of the thousands of drunk travellers who continually pass through thinking they own the world.....I remember when I was like that. It was a hell of a lot of fun.
Sunday, May 26, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I had a brief reunion with my travel partners. I arrived in Madrid at 5:30 in the morning by overnight bus, called the national train authority for any trains coming from Lisbon, made for the train station, drank a coffee and fell asleep on my bag at the station, woke up just in time for a train from Lisbon arriving at 8:30....and, as luck would have it, Peter was on it, with a friend of ours from college who I hadn�t seen in years. Lots of hugs and "holy shit"s later, we made for town and tried to meet another friend at the Plaza Mayor at noon...didn�t work out. Later that day we were at a bar waiting for a friend of ours that lives in Madrid and who shows up?? My sister comes up from behind, puts her hand over my eyes and gives me one of those "guess who" things. About thirty minutes after that the girl we tried to meet in the Plaza shows up and an hour later our friend from madrid shows up with all people we�d met last week when we were there.....by this time, of course, we are all old friends and so we proceed to drink as much as possible to show how happy we are to see each other....and after running up what must have been an insane bar bill, we find out they aren�t charging us for any of it. We knew the guy that owned the bar.....met him the week before...and, of course, we�re all old friends by now. We give the bartender like a 30 dollar tip (which really wasn�t that much) and he was so happy he gave us all a bunch of free drinks.
Here are some pictures I have taken. Select the album called "Sailing the Mediterranean"
Thursday, May 23, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I love Barcelona. Its like the floor of my dorm room...the more you look, the more you find. I am a 10 minute walk from La Rambla, which is where this internet cafe is. I�ve taken a different but equally amazing route over here everday. I met the dude that runs the wrap shop, got the idea from a visit to New York. I talked to a bum from Canada in front of a church that, after some prodding, admitted that he isn�t a bum but is doing some sort of odd research on charity. There is a girl sitting next to me chomping on potato chips wearing a hot pink belt. Whitney Houston is singing Jesus Loves Me on the radio. I am going to go get a coffee and decide where I�m going today....maybe France.
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I got lots of sleep last night and feel much better today. I need to remind myself to watch that.
I�ve gotten several emails from people telling me that they are surprised to find I�m so introspective. Well...I have a theory that pretty much everyone does it a lot more than they admit...the question isn�t whether it happens, but whether you share it or not. There is a certain link between introspection, passion and emotional stability. My system of introspection may be more developed because I need stronger checks to balance my emotional instability...but perhaps not...maybe its just that my system is different.
What is a pity is that you have to guard stuff like that. You can�t just go telling everyone what you think all the time. They use your words against you, use them to put you into their intellectual cubbyholes, to label you with stereotypes. Life is often a powerplay and you have to watch carefully what message you send. Someone is always watching and very few people realize that what someone says is so often just a snapshot, irrelevant and outdated by the time you�ve processed what you think it means.
I remember a few years ago I went back and read everything I�d written in my journal over the preceding 2 or 3 years. A lot of it was just crap and rambling, some of it was quite inspiring.....and a lot of it was pretty disturbing and depressing. I�m not really distrubed and depressed, but if you somehow got hold of my journals you might think so.
Why do I break my own very sound rules and publish a website that makes unfair snapshots and reflects inner thoughts that could allow someone to put me in an intellectual cubbyhole? Hmm....there is a good and fairly practical answer for that, but it isn�t a very interesting one, so I�ll just skip it.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Everyone left today...my sister is gone and so is Peter. Travelling alone can be really lonely, especially at first when you are used to being with someone. I�d forgotten what it was like. Its sad too. I met a girl from Minnesota in the park today and we�re going for a drink later. I�m trying not to spend too much time alone until I get at what it is in my head thats knocking on the door. I�m trying to untie the knots of the past two years.
Its almost impossible to write an honest travel journal. Nothing is representative and that sucks.
I have been thinking about travelling today. Parts of it are passing their usefulness for me. It is no longer about the places...hasn�t been for years. The newness wears off more and more quickly. And sadly there is little personal growth involved. I�ve learned most of what there is to know about myself from it...and for that I shed a little tear because that is one of its greatest gifts. All that is left is the people you meet and the chance to clear your head...the reset button...and that is still a great value. One day I suspect the people I meet will cease to be so important.....but the reset button will always be there....like an escape hatch.
That isn�t all bad. If I�m not growing and changing, I�m dying. I shouldn�t continue to like the same things my whole life. Things have to pass their usefulness. Things have to change. I just wish it weren�t so sad when they did.
Random Travel Tip:
Its not so good to revisit places...it leads to nostalgia and retrospection. A return to the past is impossible, longing for it is dangerous, and thinking about it is self-torture. Try to always travel to a new place.
It was sad to see Meredith go today. She is my sister and as much as I hate her...I love her.
On a more factual front I went to a Spanish wedding the other day and it was the best party I�ve ever been to...without illegal substances. It was perfect and I was impressed. Ok...I�m hungry so I�m outta here.
Tuesday, May 14, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I�m sitting in a cafe in madrid, tomorrow is a national holiday. The weather is perfect and the streets are lined with trees...I didn�t sleep last night...maybe 30 minutes. Today has been long...epic. I just now got my bearings.
I ditched my group (my sister and Peter) to go for a walk. Listening to some good walking music, like a soundtrack for your life, buildings you�ll never enter, people you�ll never speak to, converstaions you�ll never hear...things just pass....and you don�t hear the cars.....and everything is ok in an odd music video sort of way. It is hope. It gives me hope. I haven�t seen behind any of the doors I passed today....there could be something new and beautiful. Those people I never talked to...they could have already passed all the bridges I�ll soon cross...they could be kind, they could all have summer homes at the beach and helicoptors and meaningful conversations and not get bogged down by all the shit that makes us smaller than we can be.
Tomorrow Real Madrid plays some really good German f�tbol team in Glasgow and I�m supposed to hope Madrid wins because the city will explode and there will be millions of people in streets celebrating.....GO MADRID!!!
Friday, May 10, 2002
posted by Kellio |
This is what it looks like to graduate:
posted by Kellio |
There is little worse than anticlimax. Its like a hangover, but less specific. I am sitting in a near empty room waiting for graduation. I should probably be with a group of friends getting drunk. That's the best idea. Why do I keep thinking that I like to spend so much time alone? I used to like it, didn't I?
Anyway, I'm outta here today, and then rush, rush and then I'm in Spain. Two years of voluntary stress, sleepless nights and overwork and it all ends in a fizzle. Aren't the mountains supposed to crumble; the seas roar? An explosion at least? Can't I get a tall horse and ride off into the sunset with one of those wide-angle-panoramic-epic-movie shots?
I think I get it. They do ride off into the sunset and the movie stops and we feel 8 feet tall and slightly heroic as we exit the theater...but the heroes are thinking: Anticlimax sucks.
Tuesday, April 30, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Today is essentially the last day of my student career. I am writing this instead of studying for a final. Moments of retrospect are largely narcissitic, but what the hell:
What did I get out of two years of business school? Polish...and a certain playfulness about the game of business, which I mainly disliked before I started. It would be nice if I could say I met a bunch of people that I'll miss like a teenage summer...but that isn't true. Many of them were quite nice, and they challenged me to smooth that more idealistic and naive part of my head that is usually out of touch with anything that could lead to a positive consequence. I tend to think that part of me is justified, because I am, at heart, a good person and so that should excuse me...right? Not really.
That doesn't subtract from my general misanthropy or disaffection...but it should ease it over the years. It's better to win and be bitter about the means that got you there, than to lose and be bitter about the means that got you nowhere.
Was business school worth the time, effort and money to get through it? Probably will be...in the long run. As the great economist John Maynard Keynes once said: In the long run, we're all dead.
Thursday, April 25, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Analysis of a dream...
To dream of being a sailor suggests that you are dissatisfied with your present life conditions and you need a refresher. Consider making a change or taking a vacation. A dream featuring sailors onshore (or being in their company) indicates a probable new and exciting romantic interest; sailors on board a ship predict news from a distance which is likely to settle some uncertainty concerning business (or financial) matters.
Am I dissatisfied with my present life conditions as the dream analysis says? Sure. To a certain extent, someone who isn't is someone who aims too low.
I drive myself nuts anyway. Someone wants me to play and sing in this "band" for a party right before school ends. I practiced with them once. It was fun. I'm such a perfectionist about shit like that.....I'll want them to play all the songs I want (since I'm singing them anyway)....and I'll make them all learn their parts....and then I'll have to go learn my parts and go pick up my equipment in Easley...fuck all that. I'll just get drunk, burn a CD of our hypothetical set list and turn up the stereo really loud.
Wednesday, April 17, 2002
posted by Kellio |
I had a beer tonight for the first time in two weeks (which is exteremly unusual). It was nice. People say that they feel better when they stop drinking. I don't. I felt fine before...the only difference now is that I don't get to remember how funny I was the night before. I guess I don't spend as much money either.
I didn't say much. The whole time, beer after beer, I was thinking of sailing. Ideas are like viruses. They loop in your head and then its all your thinking about.
Thats generally how I make decisions.....whichever idea loops is the one I need to do. That probably isn't the greatest way to decide. Lunatics, the chronically depressed, and sociopaths make decisions based on idea loops too.
Thursday, April 04, 2002
posted by Kellio |
Chasing Eden........It's like my pet name for what it is that I do. Its important to name things to yourself, to provide a focus. And I am chasing it anyway, not finding it. That can take just about any form imaginable...we all do it one way or another...even if it isn't concious or we're really bad at it.
Everything is/was some aspect of someone's dream. There are overlapping dreams and those with no dreams whatsoever, but that isn't the point, and over-complicates a very simple concept: Either you are busy living your dreams or you are busy helping somebody else live theirs.
Thats what I want to know: When I get up in the morning, am I paving the yellow brick road to my own personal Oz, or am I simply a green light on someone else's highway?
On a lighter note...I'd probably get to Oz if there weren't so many fucking toll booths along the way.