Fez, Morocco the land of me getting lost a lot and honey.

 

 

We we flew into Fez, and it was green and lush, trees were in bloom and fields were full of crops, I leaned over to Kim and said ” I was expecting sand dunes and camels”, sorry to all the people that live in Moroc, I did not do my research.  My cousin Jan is probably weeping right now, along with her husband, Jaser.  So, for you all who have never been here or at least watch PBS, Morocco, has all kinds of surprises.  And yes later in our trip we do get to a bunch of sand and even camels.  

But, lets stick to Fez, since that was our first stop.  We arrived and as we cleared customs, I was on high alert.  Never had I seen so many sights that I have never seen before, and every one was talking to each other as if they were mad.  Later, as my ear started to pick up on the sound of the Arabic dialect I realized it is a very vocal language.  

So, we meet our host inside the walls of the medina.  And by the way, this city is old.  So the streets are really only big enough for donkeys to carry what ever needs to be carried.  And they will bump into if you do not see them coming.  Our host, Khalid was sent to meet us by the owner of the AirBnB that we rented.  Khalid spoke Morocco French, which was a little bit off base from Kim’s High School French.  But we made it work.  That is sort of the fun of the travel, even though we seem to order things that we did not even realize that we wanted.  The order thing is a whole different travel topic, that one day I will cover.  As Khalid led us to what I could only assume was our death, but turned out to be our lodging.  I was so confused on where I was located, I only thought of the advice that my cousin Jan had given me, HIRE A GUIDE, well as much as it pains me to say, Jan you were right.  I will not try to explain or describe how the streets work in a medina, all I will say is one wrong left and your looking down an alley with camel heads hanging on the hook, or you take right and all you see are olives piled up five feet high and women yelling at the dude selling them.

So, we hired a guide, Rachid.  His language skills went way past mine, and he doesn’t get lost!  We got to explore Fez, I did buy the magic flying carpet that has been on my list of life time wants, and I was able to see a part of the world, that must be experienced, because no way could I described it to you.

Our host Khalid wife, Fouzia fixed three meals for us that were great.  And we got to have the famous mint tea, which was really tasty.  I am glad we started out in Fez, the city was overwhelming for me, but I think it was probably better that way.  

Next stop is boarding the Marrakech Express, no kidding, we really did.

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Seville, Tapas, Carnival, and a beer drinking dog.

Well Kim and I made it to Seville.  What a neat city.  We stayed in an apartment off of Calle Amor de Dios.  Which means in Spanish, let’s go get some Tapas and CruzCampos!  We could of no way have been any better located.  So the first day there our friend Becky stopped by to visit for a week.  I had no idea she was showing up.  Either did Kim, you know how some neighbors are, always getting involved with everyone’s business.

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As you can see, she is quite pushy.  Anyway, we did have a good time together, and we three traveled well as a triad.

The daily plan was to wander a different barrio, with a few sites picked out.  And if anyone saw anything that they wanted to try, shout it out!  After three taverna shout outs, I was vetoed on further stops.  Only historic important places, I was told. Historic walks only, like the one trip that Ms Rebecca led us through, a gypsy camp on the way to some old Spanish stuff. I was almost killed. Luckily, I was able to duck in a taverna, and ditch the bandits.

On the beginning of Carnival, we struck out to see some famous church. By the way in Spain, there is a church on every other corner, and the other corner has a taverna. That is why the country is known as the 50/50 nation. You will have a fifty percent chance of getting to where you need to go at every corner. True fact! As I was saying, we went to this church, I didn’t go in for fear of bursting into flames, but the girls said it was great. Then we walked some more and ended up in this street party. It was great, they had this band all dressed up in funny cloths and they sang and must of cracked jokes, because everyone would start laughing. Except me, I could not keep up with their Spanish. Luckily, they had beer, and nothing, but nothing increases my ability to speak in another language like free flowing beer.

Another night the girls wanted to go see a Flamingo bar. I was thinking who has a bar with a bunch of big pink birds in it. I was sure it was a gay dance club, but it was a bar and I am always in to stop in to the old local drinking establishment. And as my friends all know, I am a great dancer, so I was all in. Guess what, no big pink birds, guys wearing frilly shirts and girls wearing tight crazy dresses. I could not dance as good as them though. I was not even allowed on the table to try. I am sure the girls took us to the wrong bar, it was the gypsy camp all over again.

Spain was great, if they would only talk in closed caption I would been sure they all were not talking about me. Africa is on the horizon. Until then adios…

Granada Snow, Malaga Sun

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We have been busy travelers. We left Madrid, with an arm full of vaccines, smiles and a lot of confusion. By confusion, I mean what did he say? Our Spanish skills are not what they speak in Spain. Or as I was talking with Ignaso, my bartender in my taverna, “what Spanish is it that you speak?” My reply, ” I learned my tongue in Mexico,” his reply, “that is not Spanish!” Well, I am not saying it is, but I am defiantly not saying it is at this point. So, I am going to have to give our good old community college a few euros when I return home and sign up for night school. Mostly because I do not want to ever get a big plate of I have no idea what this is, when I clearly ordered a beer and olives!
Chetco Brewing in Granada Spain

So, we had a great time in Granada, seeing the sights and Kim even was called a woodpecker by this group of women. Great story, just ask her about it some time. The best was going to a Arabic Bath. I got to soak in this cavern like place in hot mineral water, then get scrubbed down with salt, then messages with oil. Followed up with a steam, then out the door to my taverna, for beer and tapas.
Alambra

The photo was the view from our roof top. We had booked through AirBnB and you should check them out if you are traveling. So far for us, they have been working out really well.

Ok, it is time for my nap, I will give you more from the Mediterranean when I write again.

Spain update

Tomorrow we leave Granada. What, the last time you heard from us was Madrid. I know, but the truth is, we are having to much fun ruining a perfectly good language like Spanish. If it wasn’t for Kim hanging in there and doing a great job, I would of got an hernia operation in Madrid Medical Clinic. We were getting our vaccines for Senegal, and the next thing I know, is I am being prepped for surgery. Kim my hero, enclosed photo is her calling for lodging to our next town. Speaking French, because the person on the other end of the call Spanish was so heavy that, French was easier?

Kim will tell you more when she writes, the bottom line is we are having a blast, and are healthy. Heading to the south coast in the a.m., by bus. To keep cost down I have volunteered to ride on the roof, but I was informed, that I was on the wrong continent? Oh yeah today we went to an Arab bath house and soaked, got salt scrub and a message with lavender oil. This was of course after I had my Campo Cervas with Tapas. After all I am trying to keep this trip civilized.

Madrid, here we are, wanted or not.

As some of you know, Kim and I have flown to Spain in route to Africa to visit with some friends. Why Spain, because our neighbors Daniel and Lindsey told Kim about these cafés that serve drinking chocolate along with churros. We’ll Kim was all up in my face, ” Boy, you will bring me to those cafés, as much time as I sit around in taverns with you”! So, there you have it, I choose to go to Spain for three weeks, because Kim only wanted to go stop in for a few days. I showed her who is in charge.
The flight was great, on both legs we jumped into extra seats, in order to lay down. I slept like a baby, a big baby, but still a baby. The metro worked smooth and the AirBnB, that we rented is nice. We have a balcony, and are with in blocks of Plaza de Ameila.
We went walking after a nap, and I got lost. I did find a chocolate cafe so I looked like a hero. Then after our churros, as we started our stroll, we came across more of the cafés, so much for my status as hero. We found the market and bought food for the flat, and are looking forward to few more days in Madrid.

Cafe

Random Photos from New Zealand

Kim is asleep, and I have a fresh pot of coffee, and wifi. So, I thought I would share a few photos. Notice I have not turned into a Kiwi, by having a pot of tea. We were in Wellington when I started writing, put it away and I am now in Auckland. We have had a visit with our friend Sam from Portland, who is visiting New Zealand for a few months. Got to meet her aunt and we all have coffee together.

In Napier with Sam, having a long black. "Coffee"

Kim and I are chilling in Auckland, going to see music at night and walking the city by day. Having a great time, with just three days left.

Kim and I at waterfront in Wellington

Travis lakeside, with glacier in background, somewhere near middle earth

Boat House


Waterfall

New Zealand Stuff

First things first, I am not knocking New Zealand with this writing, I am just writing about how things are different then what I am use to, which makes sense, since I have never been here before.

“It is a good day for it…” people say this to you but never follow up with what it is a good day for. I have never been here, so I am thinking give me some more information will yah. I mean a little more of what it might be nice to do would be great. For a bloke that hasn’t been tramping across paddock before, a wee bit of information is sweet as.

This is what I am up against. But the truth is, I love it here. I am sure the country has its issues, social problems, shortage of fair this and that. But, I do love it. The people are normal people, they speak a language that would be easy for me to learn. The climate is how I like it, because it will change in a day or two. The outdoor activities are overwhelming, and not to busy. I like to be around the water, the country is a two large islands, with smaller ones here and there. The cities have character and things to do. The country is rural with all that goes along with it. Yea, I like NZ and I am evening drinking their Pinot Gris, with my kiwi friend Don H. Who saw that coming?

Driving for the first time on the other side of the road is a RUSH. I, right away turned into oncoming traffic. But the locals were kind and just waved at me, as if saying silly Americans do not know how to drive proper. No horns blowing. Which by the way I noticed is a way to say thanks, by lightly tapping the horn. All of the stuff to drive with is on the opposite side of the car. And I keep jumping in the passenger seat, and think where in hell did the steering wheel go?

Travis, Kim and Don H. having a nice Kiwi evening