Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Day in Cuenca

Go ahead and make up your own captions.

What can I say other than........

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beware Of ..........


Took little trip to Banos (not the village a couple miles out of Cuenca ........ went to the other Banos) last week .  Basically went up the Pan Am Hwy to Riobambe.  The map shows a secondary road from Riobabmba to Banos.  This looks much shorter than continuing north on the Pan Am to Ambato and then turning south at Ambato to go to Banos ...... second leg also a secondary road.  Looks like the direct route from Riobamba to Banos is about half of the Riobamba - Ambato  - Banos option.  Looks like, if you can find it that is.  Found no road sign leading us to this shortcut.  Drove aimlessly through Riobamba asking directions and was told just about every different way to find the road ..... all fails.  Finally saw an I-Tour office and they said the shortcut: 1) sucked .... terrible road, and 2) it was closed anyway.  So we went the long way ..... which would have been fast way if we hadn't searched for the short way ..... which sucked and was closed to boot.

Finally made it to Banos and found our place.  Wish Trip Advisor had mentioned that it was ........... never mind,  Left the place a couple days early and decided to go east to Puyo.  Not sure why. Puyo is on the edge of the Amazon and is really cool if you: 1)  go to the most expensive resort there, and  2) never  leave the resort.  Kind of a Disney version of the Amazon.  I left the resort and did considerable walking around.  Had a lot of trouble finding the charm.  Great place to go live if you are a fugitive and want a place where no one would think to look.  However, weird ...... almost no biting insects.  I figure the snakes must eat them.

So, now a choice on how to get back.  There is a road (fairly straight ) that parallels the Pan Am Hwy back down south.  But it is on the wrong side of the mountains from Cuenca.  I hear the road is nice, but it is kind of iffy on how to make the transition over the mountains to get to Cuenca once we get down south.  Apparently there are two roads crossing the mountains.  Looking at 5 different maps ...... no two maps show both roads.  A couple maps show one road, a couple maps show he other, a couple  shows neither.  By different maps, I am referring to print maps, (Bing), Google maps and the Garmin GPS.  Whatever maps we are looking at, suggest the transition east/west road is okay.  I talk to a friend that tried it a few weeks ago, and he says everything was good until he got to the landslide that forced him to turn around and go the loooong way back to the Pan Am Hwy what with all the backtracking.  But, you know, the landslide is probably clear now.

So off we go south on this road.  Starts out great .....beautiful paved, new black top, straight road (for Ecuador), little traffic.  Life is sweet.

So we get to the decision about which if the ease/west roads to take over the mountains. One looks about twice as long and it only shows up on oue of our mapes as a dotted line. We know that neither are going to be great roads.  The locals tell us to take the short road which is about 50 km further down the nice paved road (but now really winding) to the turnoff for it.  So we do.  We ask a local and he says it was gravel, but not bad.  LIAR!

We get to it and realize ....... it has never been paved and is under construction to boot.  There is a huge sign hanging over it that says "Via Cerrada Para Construction"  (Road Closed for Construction).  But it is a Saturday.  We start up the road.  About 4 miles in (and before it got really bad, we see a truck coming the other way.  He tells us the road is open all the way, but is rough gravel.  We have 4 wheel drive, so we plow ahead.

He should have said that rough gravel is the best part of it.  Many times on that road, I would have given $100 for a rough gravel stretch.  Imagine any and all the things you do not want to find on a mountain road.  It was all there.  At one point where it was real narrow, slippery wet clay and a 500 -600 sheer drop, the Brennie simply but a jacket over her head.   45+ miles and 3 hours later, we emerge from this great shortcut.  We were the only car we saw on it.  There were pickups and road building equipment.  We had to stop a few times for landslide clearing and other equipment doing stuff.  Only bottomed out the car a few times ..... thats a horrible noise.

But we made it home and no one can call us gutless weenies!  Dumb asses, yes.  Gutless weenies, no.

Oh yeah, cell reception on our lovely shortcut.  None.

Scenery do die for .... and might have.

Did I mention the spot where they were building the new bridge?  Got to drive through the river.  Shallow thank god!

You want pics?

But Wide.

Mud but wide.

Can you see the snipers in the trees?

More wide and muddy.
I guess the only time we took pics was when we were stopped.
The good news ...... after a drive like this, you can get your car leaned 'completo' for $9 or less.  Inside, out, windows (in and out again), undercarriage and engine compartment.

Life is sweet,

PS:  The road was much worse than these sad-*ss pics suggest.

PPS:  Did I mention that before we left Puyo and took the alternate road south (good road) and the hell road across the mountains that I asked in Puyo about whether to go that way or backtrack down the Pan Am Hwy.  I asked at 2 I-Tour offices in Puyo and and two cops.  They all said to take the Pan Am Hwy and not the way we did.  But the then the whole 'gutless weenie' thing came in to play and we had a lovely adventure.  Can't wait to do it after the new road is in!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Selling the Apartment

Sometimes this retired life gets really complicated.

For instance, I was going to post a new blog entry and I wanted to include some pics.  

So I thought ........well, I went to the dermatologist the other day and had a bunch of (benign pre cancer something keta-somethings) stuff burned off.  Actually frozen off, but it sure as hell felt like burning.  Resulting in blisters and pretty scabs ...... kind of like burning but without the lovely smell. 

Anyway, I thought that I could post some pics of my pretty forehead.  Brennie says that is disgusting.  So, she told me to put up some info on our apartment that we have decided to sell.  And she says that I can put up pics of the apartment too.

So ..... back to the apartment:
We recently put in a new kitchen and bath and tore a wall out of the downtown apartment.  It’s great.  Now I really love the energy of living in El Centro and I love the apartment.  Brennie prefers the house and especially having a little yard for Bugger and Wanker.  I agree that the house is lovely and the yard is nice.  So, I can either enjoy downtown and the newly remodeled apartment as a single man, or live with Brennie and the beasties.

When we started the remodel, we were planning on keeping the apartment for a long time.  David Morril at Cuenca Real Estate says that real estate is appreciating at about 10% a year. So it makes good sense to keep the apartment and rent it out.  BUT, I have been a landlord before and I DO NOT ENJOY IT.

Location:  1 1/2 blocks from Parque Calderon, Carolina Store, Kookaburras Restaurant, and the Tomebamba River.   Midway between Parque Calderon and the Tomebamba River. Corner of Luis Cordero and Honorato Vasquez. Basically right in the center of everything.

Unique apartment:  There may be other apartments in El Centro that offer what this one does.  But if there are, I don’t know of them.
1) 6th story apartment in a 2 or 3 story neighborhood.
2) Huge balcony. Combined with #1 ..... makes for a great view.  The pic at the top of the blog is of Brennie standing on the balcony.
3) Elevator to the door.  No steps.
4) Within a couple blocks of ..... you name it.  Just about everything.

Price:  We would like one million dollars, but will settle for 1/8th of that.  (That works out to $125,000.)  Slightly more if purchased through a realtor..

Rooms:  2 big bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, large vestibule/foyer/entryway, kitchen, dining room and living room.

Size::  Very spacious.  I think the title says that it is about 1600 sq feet.  I have never measured to figure it out and I don’t know if this includes the balcony (45‘ x 6’) or the laundry/maid’s room (with shower and stool) which is on the covered roof.    But the rooms are big.  For instance (this is from memory) ...... The foyer is something like 8’ x 13’, dining room is 13’ x21’ (holy sh*t!), the bedrooms are approx 15’ x 15’)

View:  The building was built in the early 70’s.  It is a six story building in El Centro.  Most of the buildings in El Centro are OLD and only 2 or 3 stories, So the view is fabulous.  The apartment is on the top floor, the entire front half of the building.  The balcony runs across the entire front of the building (45’).  I love it.  I guess that you could call it a penthouse.

Elevator:  Yep.  Right to the front door.

New Kitchen and Bath:  Never been used.  We re-did the other bath several months ago.  I had always wanted a urinal and finally got one.  Now, it will be someone else’s. Granite countertops in the kitchen.  Marble top in the bath we did a few months ago.

This is actually the Dining Room.
Don't be fooled by the couch, etc.
Floors and Windows:  The floors are all wood (actual wood) except in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Those are porcelain.  Windows in the living, dining and front bedroom are custom wood 2” blinds.  The other bedroom has a (custom) other kind of thing which I can’t explain.  The wood floors have been refinished.

Utilities, Taxes and Condo Fees:  The water, gas and electric total about $35/month.  Taxes are $28/year.  Condo Fees .. $72/month.

That green thing at the top
is the awning on the balcony.

Professional Building:  Almost the entire building are offices.  Mostly lawyers.  They made us feel very welcome and we miss them.  There are 2 other apartments in the building.  Our apartment is top floor front.  The other two apartments are on the top two floors in the back of the building.

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brennie Saves The Day

Today is Wednesday.

Monday I wrote (but did not post) a blog that I titled ‘Guilt and Self Loathing’.  It was about ....... guilt and self loathing.  Because I was riddled with ........ 

Why was I feeling that way?
It was a Monday.  
I was not at work.  
I was sitting on my *ss reading for pleasure.  
I had nothing planned to do that was remotely constructive.  
I was being lazy and self indulgent.  
I was feeling like a parasite.  
The most constructive thing I did was to actually use an ash tray when I smoked a cigar.

Here are a couple excerpts from the ‘Blog That Didn’t Happen’:
“I was raised a ____________ (insert religion that controls and manipulates using guilt ....... yeah, you know the one I’m talkin’ about).”
“I have an overdeveloped work ethic.”

I even identified sloth as one of the seven deadly sins ...... and rightfully so.  I expressed wonder that lust made the same list ......... after all, isn’t it just good clean fun?

I even had a suggestion for those of you out there still going to work every day.  Don’t stop. Don’t retire early. Keep working.  Preserve your self respect.  Ramp it up to 7 days a week.  Keep paying into Social Security till the day you die. (So that when I turn 62 there will be plenty for me.)

Anyway,  how does Brennie save the day?

Does she get on line looking for another trip for us to take?  Yes she does.  But that’s not the cure.
Does she suggest that I can recapture my dignity and self worth by returning to work?  She does.  But I gallantly point out that if I take a job, it would deprive a more deserving person of the opportunity.
Does she tell me to get over it?  That too.  Doesn’t work.
Does she ignore me?  Duh.

So, what does she do?  How does she save the day?
She slips.  
She falls.  
She fractures her little wrist.

My life has purpose again!
Make the coffee.  
Wash the dishes.  
Make the bed?  
Feed the dogs.
Take out the trash.
Make lunch.

I am a parasite no more.  
There is work for me.  
Once again the Brennie has saved the day.

She looks awfully cute with that little cast on her wrist.

Sorry, gotta go. Laundry to put away

Life is sweet again,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Home Again
Culture Shock.

Okey Dokey, now.
When you have been gone from home for 6 weeks, there are some adjustments  upon return.
Personal Safety:  We spent roughly 3 weeks in Spain.  The Spaniards are DILIGENT about following all the traffic laws.  Possibly a lingering after effect of 40 years of Francisco Franco’s authoritarian dictatorship?  Gee, I’ll bet that was jolly.  Anyway ..... personal safety.  Spanish drivers stop for pedestrians.  Always. No exceptions.  Almost to the point of being ridiculous.  It is easy to lose one’s finely tuned Ecuadorian instinct for pedestrian self preservation.  (13 words in that sentence ...... and lots of syllables .... and awkward to boot).  The drivers in Spain lulled us into a false sense of safety. Anyway, must again get used to looking in ALL directions (twice) before crossing the street.  
“Hey honey, where is the ________ kept?”:  We moved into the house 8 weeks before we left for our trip.  During much of that 8 weeks, things were getting moved around until most stuff finally found it’s home base.  Then we left for 6 weeks.  Now I can’t find anything.  Forgotten where many things eventually ended up. This is frustrating and amusing. and a great way to kill time.
Eating:  ‘Eating’ once again means food prep.  Bad enough to eat almost all meals in restaurants in Spain and Morocco.  But to finish it up with two weeks of eating on the cruise!  We arrived home early Monday eve. Between no food in the house and having to prepared (and CLEAN UP), We didn’t eat here for about 24 hours. But that is okay because we were carrying around extra reserves from the cruise.
Our Comfy Bed:  Our bed here is gloriously comfy.  The same cannot be said for some of the beds we were in on the little trip.
Cleaning Up After Ourselves:  It is easy to get used to daily maid service ....... not making the bed ....... dropping towels on the bathroom floor ....... eating, getting up and walking away.  I left  a couple towels on the bathroom floor Monday evening and Brennie has yet to pick them up and replace with clean ones.  I wonder how long she will hold out.
Clean Clothes EVERY Day:  We travelled light through Spain and Morocco.  One piece of carry on luggage each.  So we got used to wearing the same thing for multiple days.  This was easy enough for me, as I tend to wear the same thing a lot.  (Some people think that I wear the same white shirt every day here in Cuenca.  Not true ...... I have 7 or 8 identical white shirts.  I like white shirts and it is such an easy decision.)  However Brennie is back onto the complicated dilemma  of choosing what to wear. Girls are different than guys.  Duh.
Cell Phones:  Gotta admit, it was pretty sweet not having a cell phone for 6 weeks.
Sidewalks:  Back to watching where you step.  Anybody that lives here understands this.
Looking Like Tourists:  Unfortunately, the only place I don’t look like a tourist is Kansas.

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tenerife, Canary Islands

Can't find the d*mn canaries.

Been on board the ship for a few days ...... Where the Internet access is somewhere between $1 and $8 a MINUTE! But hey, the food is free! That's weird. Food which has to be loaded on board, cooked, served, cleaned up, etc. Is free. Internet which is impossible to hold in your hand, floats around on magical invisible waves, has zero mess etc ...... costs an arm and a leg

At Wifi hotspot in Tenerif now. Must leave soon or drink a 4th espresso. That's kind of weird too, isn't it? Renting Internet access by purchasing caffeine ..... which I believe is a drug.

Canaries or not ..... This place is beautiful.

Life is sweet,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Marrakech to Palma de Mallorca

Ryan Air:
Ryan Air is interesting.  Cheap flights.  No Frills.  NO FRILLS.  All you get for the price of your ticket, is a seat and one carry-on of 10 kilos or less.  That is one carry-on. ONE ..... not a carry-on and a personal item.  EVERYTHING else costs extra. 
- A chekced bag - extra. 
- Bag of peanuts - extra.  
- A soda - extra.
- If you pay for your checked bag at the ticket counter - extra.  You must declare and pay for the checked bag when you check in online or - extra. That is, you pay for the checked bag and an additional 40 euros ($60) service charge if you do it at the ticket counter.
- If they print the boarding pass - extra. 
- Reserved seat - NOT extra.  Because NOT possible.  First people on, get the seat of their choice.  Last on ..... gets whatever is left. The line at the boarding gate was just short of a slug-fest.
- Licensed pilot - extra (kidding).
- We were going to take a pic of the plane - but we were afraid of an extra charge.
-  Use the toilet - I heard they were pay toilets.  But that may just be a rumor.  Didn't check it out.
- Board and exit the plane - walk across the tarmac.  They don't even rent a boarding ladder.  It is built into the plane.  I am surprised we didn't have to use the emergency exit and climb off the wing.
- Seats don't recline.
- Advertising posters on the inside of the cabin.
- In flight entertainment.  Gee, you think?

The real job of the flight attendant is to sell products during the flight.  They are constantly cruising the plane with carts of things to sell.  Even lottery tickets.  Ryan Air has their own lattery scam.  I saw a lot of people buy the Ryan Air lottery tickets ... but I saw no winners.
Gotta love this airline.

Palma de Mallorca:
On the Island of Mallorca.  East off the coast of Spain, In the Med. It is a beautiful city. Not really seeng the sights here, though  We catch the cruise tomorrow for the last stage of the trip.  2 weeks crossing the Atlantic and docking in Panama.  We have a few ports of call .... Canary Islands (no canaries there) and a few places in the Carribean.

It has bee a fabulous 4 weeks.  But,looking forward to a couple weeks of REST on the ship.

Upcoming blog ..... DO's and DONT's when visiting Morocco.

for the last of the pics.

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Day in Marrakech

We are leaving Marrakech and Morocco tomorrow.  Memorable.  Different.  Exceeded my hopes / expectations at the same time as falling short.  Great experience.

Chuck, Brennie and Nancy all came down with some degree of not feeling so good.  I did everything I could to to join them, but so far am unphased.  I have always loved street food and have eaten my share of it here.  Brenda says that I will probably end up with a tapeworm or one of it's little buddies.  Maybe. The dates and figs!  Wow!

Made some little snake friends.
The snake owners tried to charge me about $50.
I laughed and gave them pocket change. 
I would have been a little more generous,
but was outraged by their demand of $50.
Still it was fun .... for me.

Cuenca has street dogs ... lots.
Morocco has cats.
Most of them are (look) amazingly healthy.
They are very friendly and will come rub up against you.
I really like them.
They don't charge to have their pics taken.

Olives.  Lots of olives.
I am going to miss the olives.
They are served with every meal and
are really good in all their varieties.

Sometimes it seems like the whole country spells of spices.

to see the last of the Morocco pics

Life is sweet,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Marrakech Trivia and Haircut (etc)

The Trivia:
- The mint tea is great. A simple recipe. Fresh mint and hot water.  Sugar optional.
- The call to prayer (5 times a day). I love hearing it. It is done from each mosque. So if you are surrounded by mosques .... It is super-bob cool.
- Two main languages spoken here. Arabic and French. The French is pleasing to my ear. The Arabic ... exotic. So .... here is the question? Why do I try to speak Spanish to everyone?
- Our riad has a balcony overlooking the big square at the center of the medina. We can hear all the flutes (?) and drums constantly ..... from the snake charmers. Also very cool.
- I bought a bunch of fresh dates and figs from one of the many stalls on the square. I am sure I overpaid. But they are GOOD.
- The Brennie and I are spending the day on the roof of the raid .... and loving every minute of it. We are feeling no need to go out into the throng.
- Local hustlers have been calling me Ali Babba because of my beard.

The Haircut, Shave and Beard Trim:
Stepped out to find a medina barber.  Walked down progressivly narrower streets.  Found my barber.  Watched the customer in front of me.  Interesting multi-step process with lots of head rubbing and the fastest scissors I have ever seen.  Went from one part of the head to the other and back again and again and again.  The straight razor came out more than once for edging and other stuff too.  Not really the same process I am used to.  But a great show. 

My turn.  Haircut communicaton is a challenge in any language.  But what the hell, I really don't care. Short and not a Mohawk.  Got the haircut complete with all the flourishes  It was so much fun, that I let him do the beard too.  Lost most of the hair above my neck today.  But hey.  My hair is short.  It will grow out quick, I have had worse and I have given myself worse.  I doubt that I will be called Ali Babba any more.

Chuck and Nancy got a couple bracelets that I covet.  I am really jealous.  I want one too.. Maybe Nancy will post a pic.  I won't.  I am bitter.

Flower and plant market. Duh. 

Hey Randy ..... this is the moto of choice here. 
100's of them.

They come in Yamaha, too.

These guys were friendly as little puppies.
Loved getting their pics taken.
They weren't quite as cheerful when I refused to pay them 150 Dh ($18) each.
They grabbed my arm to try to get it.
I settled on 20 Dh ($2.40) total when I pulled my arm away
and moved on despite their unhappiness

for all (7) of today's pics

Life is sweet,

Monday, October 24, 2011

On the Train to Marrakech

Who was it that had that song so many years ago ..... The Marrakech Express? Was it Crosby. Stills, Nash and Young?

It's odd. When we were in southern Spain, it hadn't rained in over 120 days. Here in North Africa, it has rained .... hard rain, the last 3 nights. Not what I expected. Also cooler and more humid. It is the later part of October. Maybe that has something to do with it.  Then again, what you expect is often not what you get.

I bought a rubber watch from a street vendor in Madrid. $6. Chuck keeps eyeballing it. He won't admit it, but he covets it. It is like one of those snap bracelets. But covered with rubber and has a watch.  It is pretty bitchin'. The Brennie got one too.

Still on the train .......
I made a lovely new friend on the train today.  She got on the train about half way between Fes and Marrakech (in Rabat I think).  She had a seat in our compartment ..... reserved seating in 1st class.  But, I believe that she was the rudest most aggresive person I have ever met.  Truly ugly.  Unbelievable.  It really pissed me off.  So .... I out-ruded her.  I out-nasty-attituded her.  I out-aggressed her.  Kind of surprised myself.  I don't know if I am really proud or really ashamed.  Apparently not too ashamed as I am blogging about it.  Anyway ..... if anyone needs lessons in true rudeness with a sprinkiling of hostility ..... I am your guy.

Made it to Marrakech .........
Got at the riad (old home converted to hotel / guest house) right before dark.  Went out to dinner.  Will explore tomorrow.

Brennie took this great pic walking away from the train. 

Rooftop view after dinner.

The Central square right after we arrived.
From our rooftop.
We have a great location.
Once again, Chuck did good.

Weaving our way through the Medina to our Riad.

for pics of today.

Life is sweet,

PS:  Did I mention that I didn't like that gal on the train today?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fes - Day 2 and 3


Parts of the Medina (old town) are over 1200 years old.  And we have been to those parts.  Impossible to describe.  9000+ small streets and allies.  Confusing as all get out.  Each one is more interesting than the last.  Fes is the oldest continually occupied city in ......... was it Morocco, Africa, the world?  I don't know.  Somewhere.

We hired a guide yesterday as a group.  Each couple returned at least a couple times today.  Took a taxi tour around the outside of the Medina.  We went down strets (that are 1200+ years old.  Really mind boggling.  What an ancient culture.  Ate a lot of authentic food ....... some great and yummy ...... some a little foreign to my palate (sp?)  Sat outside in sidewalk cafes drinking really good coffee.  Brenda was usually the only woman there except when Nancy was with us.  We could stay here a month and not even scratch the surface of the place.

Feeling much more coomfortable today than yesterday.  We will see if that comfort will transfer to Marakesh tomorrow.
Look closely.
Can you figure out what kind of meat is sold here?

Ancient water clock.
Worked great until the French destroyed it in the 1950's.

1000 year old cedar door.
We saw a couple of the old doors that were open.  They ar about 4" thick.
Metal workers area.
Finished metal work.
Unbelievable carpets for sale.
All hand made and using natural dyes.
There is an old wall surrounding the Medina.
This is one of the gates into it.
The wall is either 45 or 60 kilometers long depending on who you talk to.
Moroccon Wal-Mart
No vehicles in the Medina.
They would never fit.
This is a Medina delivery truck.  Saw lots of these little guys.
The other type of deliveryy truck is a hand cart.
There is a free vet hospital for the donkies (mules?) .
Camel meat in some white goop.
Not refrigerated.
I believe the 'goop' is camel lard (from the hump) and olive oil.
We also saw it displayed in other ways that looke like a volcano.
Not sure.  But not new construction.
At the ceramics cooperative.
I guess if you have to be imprisoned ....
This is not a bad way to go.
Hi Nancy.
Wster seller?
We had to pay to take his picture.
So maybe he is selling photo ops?

The old and famous leather tanneries and dye works.
All the dyes are natural.
Examples:  mint is used for green dye.  poppies for red, pomegranate skins for yellow.
'Interesting' smell from this view. 
No restaurants (is that spelled right?) nearby.

I passed up the opportunity to eat a camel burger.  I hope that I can forgive myself.  I have had bufallo and elk burgers.  But not here. I have also eaten alligator and I think that I ate snake when I was younger, but doubt that I held it down for long.  So that probably doesn't count.  I do regret not eating the fried grasshopper in Mexico.  And of course ..... cuy in Ecuador.  And, oh yeah, I ate at McDonalds in Tangier.  They call the McDonalds 'The American Embassy'.


for the rest of the Fes pics.

Life is sweet,


Friday, October 21, 2011

Train to Fez and .......
Another City ..... Another Dump

Train to Fez:
On the train now from Tangier to Fes. Really looking forward to Fes. Just ate some cheese that we bought last night. Gouda with cumin seeds. Beyond words yummy. Will buy more of that if I can ...... every day.

Later but still on the train .... Busted out the peanut butter that I bought last night. Yummy. It's not JIF. But at least it tastes pretty close. So apparently it has at least some of the right stabilizers, additives and preservatives required to make a good peanut butter. Also had a pear/apple thing. Also will pronounce it good.

Not bad.

Interesting ....... ( still on the train ). We have had two men joining us in our compartment. Each one he's claimed to have a seat in the compartment. They stay in the compartment in 'their seat' long enough to hustle us with their services, then find an excuse to leave.  We were told this would happen.

Another city ..... Another Dump:
That darn Chuck Watson arranged this horrid place for us to stay here in the Medina (old town) in Fez.  I took a short walk in the Medina ....... really easy to get lost.  Came home before I could get totally lost.  9000 twisty turny little streets and alleies  Mind boggling.  Will take a tour tomorrow with someone to hold our hands.

Anyway ..... back to the dump we are in tonight and for the next 2 miserable nights .... that darn Chuck.

See what I mean?
A dump.
Pretty yucky.
Worae yet.  Like Casa Ordonez in Cuenca, this is an old (OLD) family home that has been restored .
The Brennie checking out the rooftop view.

for other train and dump pics.

Life is sweet,

Thursday, October 20, 2011


NOTE:  Re typos and misspellings:  I am working on a cheesy old Netbook.   The screen is small ..... to small for me to see any typos or misspelled words.  It was one of the first to be produced.  It is SLOW ..... painfully so.  This makes re-enterring the blog editor very tedious.  So, for these blogs ....... there is no re-write or editing.  It is just too gruesome.  The spell checker tags every word as none of them are in Arabic.  Okey-dokey.  Moving on.......

Tangier Overview:
Tangier is an ancient city.  For many years it was an international city ruled by the French, British and Spanish (I think).  As a result, once it belonged solely to Morocco, there was some 'attitude' towards it and it was much neglected by Morocco.  With the coming of the new king, several years ago, he decided that Morocco needed some long overdue attention.  What you see here is a city, trying to recover from long neglect.  There is much new building ..... but not too much completed.  In many ways, large parts of it are a construction zone.

Overview Part 2:
Tangier is a border town with lots of tourism and single day tourinsts that come over from Spain on the ferry.  As with other tourinsty border towns, it is possible to lose some of the "what you came to see or experience".  There is an amazing amount of 'hussle' here.  I refer to the meaning of huslte as in     getting hustled. Especially if you are an obvious visitor.  It can take some of the thrill off if you let it.  Example:  The ferry we took lands about 20 or 30 miles outside of town.  They do provide busses into town.  The second you get off the bus, you are surrounded by people 'offering their services'.

Moving on:
We arrived yesteday and after checking into the hotel, the Brennie and I took a walk for about 4 hours.  We walked along the beach and into old town ..... the Medina.  We made our firwst friend there.  A junky named Hassam.  He really wanted to be our guide and even after we told him (maybe 20 times) 'NO', he still followed us for blocks. Go into a store .... he is waiting for us.  Tell him 'no'.  Reverse directions to lose him ...... no such luck.  He finally gave up after I ceased to be even remotely polite.  It was interesting.  Not fun.  But, not horrible.  Interesting..

Anyway, we cruised the Medina for a while.  There are 900+ small streets and alleys and everyine is selling something.  For those of you in Cuenca, the closest I can come to describe it is Ferria Libre.  But real different.

Brennie and I returned to the Medina today,  and the Casbah, and the souks.  But we had a hsutler/guide with us.  One thing the hustler/guide did was keep the other hustlers away from us.  Beside, he was our hustler.

I have really enjoyed this city, but look forward to going to Fes tomorrow.  We are taking the train ..... about 4 hours

In the fish market.

O the ferry leaving Spain.

Directions are clearly marked
making it impossible to get lost.

Map of the Medina
is really handy.  NOT!

Gate to the Casah.
The Casbah is famous because of one corny line in a bad movie.
But you gotta go there.

Another gate to the Medina.
Looking from the inside to the (duh) outside.

Inside the Casbah.

Community oven in the Medina.
People bring their food in to be cooked.

Quiz #1
What is this?

for all the Tangier pics

Life is Sweet,

PS:  We are having a ball!!!  It is great to be traveling with Chuck and Nancy.