Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 45 Camino de Santiago Aug. 19 Muxia

  It was very difficult to leave the fire at Finisterre and the endless view to North America.  I kept wanting to savor it more.  To be able to someone bring it with me.  Not going to happen and like any great moment, it comes to an end.  And no matter how much you want to stay, you know you gotta go... There's a voice inside that tells you that you are older now.  When you were young, you cried and screamed and kicked and shouted, and pouted, "No!!! I don't want to go!  I want to stay!!!  I love Disneyland!   Save me Mickey!!"  but as you get older and cross that bridge of knowing when it's time to go and finally accepting that it's time to go, it's a voice that says, "Well...get your big boy pants on, suck it up, and head down the mountain!"  Youth - Resistance -  I'll fight you till one of us can't. Aged - Acceptance - that's the first sign of age - I'll only fight when I must.
Still, I've got no respect for those with no fire, no youth, no fight.  Stay away from me!  You're going to be burned.
    Well this burned fool headed down the mountain from the lighthouse with Tina, neither of us talking too much, but with wry smiles on our face.  We were part of a fraternity now.  Something I've always wanted.  If you were in the Navy on the USS Begonia, you and your shipmates share something that binds you.  Something that, regardless of how little it may seem to others, can help you in daily you pleasure to know that you have a family.
    Too mushy?  Too cornball?  Then you haven't been there, and "there" ain't a place.
     Despite the zillions of cars zooming down the mountain, we managed to not get run over, though I'm amazed that people aren't whacked every day.  When you can feel the heat from an engine, it's too close.  When you hear the conversations of the kids in the back seat, you're too close.
     Earlier in the day when I told Anastasia and Nudia that I'd be splitting from them, I needed some way to pacify the feeling that I was abandoning them, even though I knew that they understood.  We agreed to meet for dinner at a restaurant that Kevin had told me about that he said was out of this world.    I believe that today's celebration was certainly worthy of a top notch restaurant.
     Tina and I walked directly to the restaurant from the lighthouse and showed up at about the same time as Anna and Nudia.   We sat on the terrace and had an awesome view of the harbor.  It was out of this world!
     Kevin, and his friend Paul, had talked about ordering a platter of seafood that was gi-normous!  Basically, it was an all we could eat seafood platter.  It was great because we got to have so many sea creatures that I'd probably never order a whole meal of.
    That night, via an Italian friend I had walked with for a short time a couple of days before, had told us about a festival that was for peligrinos.  It was about a two mile walk along the water on a boardwalk.  I had remembered seeing the townsfolk setting up for it and thought that it would be fun.  They played typical Galician folk music with a spike of rock and roll mixed in.  Accordians, bagpipes, bass, guitars, drums!  Good stuff!  Sounded like Irish clogging music!
      It was fun... though as we headed out to the festival, it started to sprinkle... By the time we got to the festival it was pouring down.  Luckily, I had brought my Cadillac umbrella, though for the rain coming down, I needed a fleet of Caddies.   We got soaked!   Totally.
   Getting soaked in Galicia is not good, because it is so damp that nothing dries out and eventually mildews.  Phew!  I didn't need a bath.  I needed a pyre!
     The next morning, I headed off to Muxia alone and glad to be walking.  Shoes, socks, pants, underwear, and shirt were soaked.  Even my raincoat was soaked!  What kind of raincoat gets soaked??

   As I was walking through the eucalyptus / pine forest, there was no restaurant (no croissant??) and I was getting hungry.  Finally, after many a mile, I found a village walked in and had a nice bacon/egg/toast... well, you know the drill.  There was a girl there who was equally soaked and was trying to decide if she was going to stay there for the night but she had very little money and there was no bank open.  I bought her a cup of coffee and told her that I was headed to Muxia.  After talking and walking with her for about three hours, I asked her her name.... Anastasia... and she was from Russia....(now it gets creepy)... and she was from the same city as the other Anastasia!!!  What!!??!?!!   Is it raining Russians??

    After finally going up and down hill after hill, we made it to Muxia.  Wonderful, except there was no room at the Municipal Albergue.  There was a hotel down the road so we headed that direction only to find another albergue that had only been open for one week.  There were only two beds left!!!  Now that is luck!

Muxia (pronounced Moo' she uh) is a very picturesque town.  Well, not so much the town, though it certainly isn't unattractive.  The coast is pretty. I saw people trying to swim.  Good luck with that one!!  They'd step in the water all the way up to their ankles and then come skeedaddling out much faster than they had gone in!
      I saw a family clamming on the beach below the boardwalk.  Talk about funky muddy work!  How can clams be so cheap.  If I was doing that kind of work, they'd cost about $44 each!
    In many ways, the multicolored homes of Muxia remind me of a New England coastal town.  Very pretty but the people seem a lot warmer than they do in New England.  That night, Anna wanted to have paella and had never had it.  We asked the Hungarian guy who ran the albergue where the best restaurant was and he told us it was in the crummiest looking restaurant in the city, but it had the best food.   He said it was in a "cave" as in below street level.  We found it and it wasn't a cave.  It was actually a really "character laden" place.  The owner looked like Fred Munster and then a 20 year boy came in and he looked like Fred Munster Jr.  They cooked one of the best paellas I've ever had!!!
    We were treated to a beautiful sunset that evening.  In the middle of the sunset we lucked upon a rainbow!  Since we haven't had much rain in Spain this summer, I haven't seen a rainbow in awhile.  Can't go wrong with a rainbow!   Probably the best since I've been in Spain.  After the rainbow, the harbor changed colors form turquoise to blue and then to a black.

      That night at the albergue, two Dutch ladies that I've bumped into the last three weeks were in the beds next to mine.  One noticed the string on my arm and we laughed because they each had one.  We bought it from the same three little girls in the same little hot dusty town because we felt sorry for them.  The albergue was a classic.  Lights out at 10:30 - me knowing that I'd be wide awake at 10:30.  The Dutch ladies go to bed at 8:30.  I asked one of them if it would bother her if I used my computer after 10:30 and she said, "Oh yes!!"   Hmmmm..... she snored like a freight train!  I couldn't have awakened her with a cattle prod!

 Muxia, doesn't feel like a Camino town.  The city hugs the coast and has a beautiful harbor.  I had very little interest in sightseeing, however, and I could feel a change coming over me.  This is the end of my travels.  I'm done.  The Camino is a fitting end.  Has to be.  I need time to savor the moments.  To amass what I've learned.  To run the information through a colander and have the important things sifted out and into my day to day operations.  I use to do that for my teachers.  Go to meetings and workshops.  Hear three days of information, process it, run it through my colander, and bring back something palatable and doable for a staff of 75.  Nobody can implement 3 days of material!
I remember hiking through Alaska and can still tell you what I learned from that trip -
      1.  I'm rich -  I've got a shower, refrigerator, and a dry bed...EVERYDAY!!
      2.  I'm a survivor -   I just know that I'll see tomorrow's sun
      3.  I'm the terminator - I won't stop.  I won't go away.
I also remember why I had to go on the Alaska trip and the many other three months voyages into the unknown.

This trip has been three stages, each marvelous and enlightening in their own right.
Spain with Zack 

The Camino de Santiago

It's time to sit back and think...and begin work on Life 2.0.  That can only be done Stateside.

    Can't say all the goals have been met here, but I'm certainly in a better place than when I left after the wrecking ball had arrived.  I am on my way.
 I head back on Saturday, August 25th, 3 months after leaving.
 It's a 6 hour train ride from Santiago to Madrid.
Overnight in Madrid and land in Phoenix at 630 PM. -               Inshallah!     Si Dios quiere

I know that after being back for a few hours, it'll seem like I never left.  What will I actually put into practice from this trip?  What will the colander leave with me??
I don't know - I'm still in the forest, however, I've been in Santiago for the past 4 days alone and have been processing, sifting, reading, eating (some things never change!) It seems that the following thoughts have already worked their way through the sifting process:

I would rather spend one day in an Ajo bus station with someone I love, than travel around the world alone
Pleasing people makes me happy.  As I walk down the streets of Santiago, I see peregrines about to enter the plaza in front of the cathedral and I say to them, "Bien Camino!"  and they respond with an ear to ear grin, and I feel better than they do.
It's okay to look down the road, but focus on the pebble at my foot.

                                        rich is the man who marvels at the mundane
Reflect - Recover - Redirect                                                      Forgive - Forget - Forge on

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 44 Camino de Santiago Aug. 18 Finisterre

I’m 56 years old.  I’ve had lots of days that were flooded with magic.  The kind of magic that makes growing old enjoyable. The kind of a day that years from now, when my bones are brittle, my memory a bit foggy, I will have a slight smile on my face.  Little children will look and say, “That old man is so crazy.  He just sits there and smiles like he knows what he’s doing!”  and the truth is, “I may not know what I am doing at that moment... but I know what I did on August 18th, 2012!   I made magic for people!!
     It started like most every other day on the Camino.  Get up.  Get dressed...start walking. Don’t think....just walk.  I thought about a wall on an albergue that I wrote on 100 years ago, or so it seems.  People had written some fairly “deep” thoughts, or tried.  It was a moment on the trail when I had just started to walk on my own, to reflect, to recover and to redirect.  I read that wall and thought,” What a crock of crapola!”  I read a few more.... I wanted to say, “Just shut up and walk!” but I said to myself, “Happy thoughts,  Steve!  Happy thoughts!”  so I tried again... “Shut the hell up and just walk!”  STEVE!!! HAPPY THOUGHTS!  and I tried again... “Stop thinking... and just walk!”  Today was one of those days.  
     Yes, I would walk to Muxia the next day, and that would be my last day of walking, but today, was the real last day of walking, and it was sad.  I didn’t know what to expect when I started out, but I knew that I couldn’t be with Nudia and Anastasia.  Nicer people you’ll never meet on a trail, but finishing this could only be done alone or with one of the original crew.  It could be done with Kevin, TIna, Gunther, Raj, or Sonnie.  But not with just anyone.  Unfortunately, Raj and Kevin were long gone.  Sonnie, Guther and Tina had disappeared.
     I told Nudia and Anastasia that I felt the need to walk alone and to their credit, they knew it.  Off I went.  Alone... and happy to be alone.  That’s new to me.  As I topped a mountain, I knew it would be the last time I saw Corcubion.  The finality of the trip was starting to wear on me.  My last albergue.  (Won’t miss that!) My last hike (will miss that).  Last planned day (don’t know if I’ll miss that!)

     As with all great journeys they begin with a healthy meal of bacon, eggs, toast, chocolate croissants, and coffee.  Okay, all of my great journeys begin that way.  Most other pilgrims have coffee and bread or just get up and walk.  Walk where??? Where are they going in such a rush??  I stopped at a very nice restaurant right on the beach.  I was the only one there for awhile and then a family came.  They looked at me as if I had a space suit on.  Hhhhhmm  must not be peligrinos!  I shot them all with my photon phaser gun!

    I’m always amazed at how much people tolerate with some pets.  How can you love a dog that yaps non stop!?  Or pees on the rug constantly?  or bites??  Finally, I met a dog that was happy to see peligrinos.  He sat there so sweetly, that I couldn’t help but photograph him.  Actually, I’ve met quite a few wonderful dogs.  Makes me miss ol’ Bucky!  Everyone should have a dog like Bucky.  I’d send him to that nut case that runs Iran if I could be sure he’d treat Bucky like he should be treated.  If he didn’t, the least of his worries would be the US nuclear arsenal.

    I love to see families working in a family business.  I grew up in a grocery store. I also remember shelling Lima beans, purple hull peas, and crowder peas under a single bulb in front of my grandfather’s barn.  Mom, Dad, my brothers, and I would sit with my Grandfather and Grandmother on upside down pecks.  Funny though.... this may have only happened once for all I know, but it seems like it happened hundreds of times.  Such is the memory of a childhood.  I was walking through one of many unnamed villages... oh I’m sure it had a name, but so many of them don’t have welcoming signs.  Heck, they don’t have street signs!!!  I know if I asked someone in town, “Why don’t you have a city name on the outskirts of town?”, the answer would be, “Why?  We all know where we live.”  Oh...Good point!  How stupid of me!!
      On this unnamed street in an unnamed town, lived three brothers that were working on octopus traps.  I walked by and they were busy at work.  When I said, “Con permiso...” (excuse me), they all looked up and it was like I was in a house of mirrors.  They all looked exactly the same.  I laughed and said, “Con permiso un segundo vec... pero son ustedes hermanos?”  (Excuse me a second time, but are you guys brothers?)  and of course they were.  
     After the pulpo hermanos (octopus brothers) encounter, the trail wound up into woodlands and it began to rain off and on.  I couldn’t have cared less.  My pack was covered. I had a poncho and an umbrella.  Someone had taken my umbrella at the albergue and someone else had left another umbrella so the lady gave it to me.  It was a Cadillac of umbrellas, and weighed about as much as one, but it kept me dry.  Did I care that I looked like a Mary Poppins’ transvestite traipsing through the forest??  Nope. Not even a little bit.  Deal with it!
      At one point, I turned a corner and saw blackberries.  I started to pick them and caught sight of a blue windbreaker that I recognized as Tina coming around a corner.  Having Tina there eased the day enough that it would still be emotional and meaningful, but it would not be like the empty feeling of walking into Santiago alone on a dreary, rainy day.
    And then it happened.  We saw Finisterre across the bay.  In times past, when we saw a village and knew that was our stopping point for the day, it always took forever to reach it.  But somehow, it seemed like Finisterre and us were moving closer to one another.  
    I took a deep breath and held my arms out to try and take it all in.  “All” is 40+ days of walking... about to come to an end.  There is such a feeling of... of... release, is the only word to describe it.  I understand why people put their hands up in the air.  It’s a feeling of submission... a feeling of humility, and acceptance that you are a vehicle for a different voice.  It felt like the thing to do at that moment.  I had many such moments when I would walk and hold my hands outstretched and frankly didn’t care who saw or heard.  There is great power in freedom of worrying about what others think.  Freedom..
     Then another miracle happened... we turned a corner and saw Gunther and his latest German frau coming down the road, on their way back from the lighthouse.  
     me - Gunther!!!
     Gunther - blahkenzie blahkenzie blahkenzie
     Me - once again Guther, I... do... not... sprechenzie Deutch!
     Gunther - blahkenzie blahkenzie blahkenzie
     Me - Das ist goot?
     Gunther - Ya Ya!!  blahkenzie blahkenzie blahkenzie
     Me - Well.... Aufweidersahn!  Chuis!
       The conversation wasn’t exactly like this... but close.  Still, Gunther was another piece of the closing of the Camino for me.  He walked down the hill, still talking to me in German, as if I had eaten a Berlitz tape or inhaled a “You too can learn German!” manual.  
   They have erected a huge cross at the top of the mountain, near the  lighthouse.  The hike to the top was a bit odd in that it was the first time on a trail of 900k that there was no trail.  We had to walk in the road and not just any road, but a road with many cars.  Felt strange to be so close to big mean cars!!  I could see the headlines now... "Apparently "7" wasn't a lucky number for an American pilgrim as he was only seven feet from finish line when a Smart Car ran him over.!"  There were enough cars to fill up parking lots at Disneyland AND Mount Rushmore.  
      Finally, the first step in the end of the Camino came into close proximation - the 0.0 kilometer marker.  No more hiking!  No more Camino.  At least not the actual camino.  There was still one more thing to do.  But before doing that, we stood at the 0.0 marker and at the same time said, "Remember the 790 marker way back in Ronceville, France?"  It seemed an eternity.  When talking to people on the Camino, no one could remember where they were the day before or the albergue.  Hard to explain.  That's why I'm glad have you (the blog/journal)!  Thanks for being here!
   Reaching the lighthouse provided enough of a distraction that it helped diffuse the emotions a bit.  I say that because it was, (not to sound haughty) but a bunch of non peligrinos who were running around, throwing rocks off the edge, even though people were walking below.  It was real world folks who were screaming at kids who didn't want to be there.  It was a circus only animals would have been acting more quietly.  

   The lighthouse did have an interesting exhibit.  Pictures and stories of ships that had crashed on or around the area.  The Great Liverpool sunk and had a tragic end for it's captain, who survived the crash... He cut his throat in Cee.  
atta boy... that'll really help those victims that you blame yourself for.  How about you really do something, like help their families?


      On one hill was a stick that is called the Peace Pole, I guess because there is a message written in several languages that says, "Can't we all just get along?"  okay, I'm joking.  You can read the pole yourself.

   This was my favorite sign of the year... well close, anyway... This antenna is at least 75 - 100 feet high with a wire running from the top to the lighthouse.  Imagine scaling that beast!  The sign says, "No hanging clothes from the antenna wire!"  Wow!  That takes guts.  The wind is always blowing 30 mph and it's 100 feet in the air, so were the Zambini Flying Brothers in town??


    When we reached the back of the lighthouse the terrain sloped steeply over large rocks to the water below.  From there, the view was non-stop to North America.  It looked like ... well the end of the world - Finisterre.  Awesome thought to think of the guts it took to hop in a boat that was only 60 feet long and sail into the unknown abyss of water.  60 Feet!!!  That's the distance from home plate to first base in softball.

   Then the magic began.  As mentioned before, one of the rituals of reaching Finisterre is that pilgrims burn an article of clothing.  Mercy!  I could have burned every piece of clothing and been justified.  In fact, I'm sure people were begging me to burn it all!  However, I had brought a pair of holy socks to burn.

    I expected there to be a fire but there wasn't.  There was evidence of previous fires, some built against a monument to a fallen peligrino.

That was not okay.  I had stopped at the Chinese store and brought a lighter and some incense.  I had started the Camino in St. Jean by spending a few minutes in the albergue's meditation garden house burning a stick of incense.  There was a girl there, don't remember her name, that had walked from Finisterre to St. Jean.  She looked like she needed some incense so I gave her a cone and told her to burn one when she got to her stopping point in England and I would burn incense when I reached Finisterre.  I lit about six sticks and set them so that the wind would blow the aroma across the fire, which wasn't so aromatic, considering what it was about to burn!

  There were non-peligrinos milling about and I could see where fires had been lit before, so I gathered some rocks, made a fire pit, stuffed some kleenex into my socks and some paper that Tina had, and started a fire.  Surprisingly, it lit quickly.  I turned on my iTunes to Dean Martin's "Return to Me!'  It was my father's favorite song and oh so mood setting.  A biker sat above the fire and watched as did several other non peligrinos.  Several laughed at first but then the magic began.

    I was lost in the moment and they could see that it wasn't a comedy routine.  It was a solemn moment.  Everyone got real quiet as the flames grew and Dean crooned.  The Spanish biker asked if he could burn a sock, and he gave it to me and I put it on the fire.  Then another person gave a t shirt, and someone else gave a hair ribbon.  And so it went.  No one saying a word and several tears falling.  It was ... magic.
   I played the song twice and then let it go to the next song alphabetically which was, "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash!  How appropriate.  The clothes burned to a vapor and I thought of the people, living and dead, who have helped me so much.
                                                   Thank you all!  Bien Camino!
        Reflect Recover Redirect                   Forgive, Forget, Forge on           Marvel in the Mundane

Chefchaouen, Morocco June 2012

Morocco - I had no plans to visit it when I began planning the trip in April.  Of course, I wasn't planning on going to Spain or hiking the Camino either.  But I saw a city in Morocco, Chefchaouen, and was mesmerized to say the least.  The pictures make it look like a city made of adobe/plaster and painted blue with a backdrop of Sedona's red rocks.  Well part of that is true.

     To get to Chef was a trip - figuratively and literally.  The bus stopped several times and gave us a chance to have freshly made ground beef/sheep/goat burgers.  The flies were extra!  It was amazing to see the passengers run off the bus to the butcher/cook, who would slice pieces of meat off of a hanging animal, grind it in the meat grinder, give it to a griller who would grill it for you while you waited.

Welcome to Morocco.  I wish I was more adventurous and could try such things, but not when I have to sit on a bus for four hours.  If I had my own bathroom and four days to get over whatever bug may come my way, but I don't.
  Chef, as it is called amongst shoestring travelers and lazy folk... is usually the favorite city of all in Morocco. It's small - 40,000 people.  It's not crazy hectic like Fez or Marrakesh.  It has decent food and extremely cheap.  The same dinner and dirt in Marrakesh may cost 100 d, but only 40 d in Chef.  There are mountains and in winter it is very cold.  In the summer, it's only warm, not baking, save the odd week's hot front that may sweep across a country.
    Lot's of people like Chef because it has very cheap and very accessible Kif, which is a mixture of weed and tobacco.  According to my landlord at Scotlandia Riad, who, believe me, is an expert in smoking Kif, says that the weed in Morocco is way too strong and the tobacco knocks it down a level.  I'll have to take his word on that.  The guy in the picture is from Mississippi and has been working in the Middle East for awhile.  He didn't know that he was standing in front of a marijuana plant.    He and his girl friend were in Morocco for a visit and stayed with me at the Riad.
    The owner of the Riad needed some help building a patio cover and I helped him.  He gave me a cut on my rent, which wasn't necessary, but accepted none the less.   You can see two patio/terraces.  We covered the lower level one with bamboo to be like the top one.  He and his wife and son were from Scotland, bought a house there when the market was at the bottom and then for the next seven years or so, vacationed in southern Morocco.  When the market was at it's height, they sold everything, made a bundle and moved to northern Morocco.  They now have this Riad you see in the photo above, aptly named, "Scotlandia".  The owner was about as easy going as you can get, for very "natural" reasons, I'm sure, but he would get mad when the taxi cab drivers would ask, "Where do you go?" and "he'd reply, "Scotlandia!" and they would look at him like he was crazy.  "Where?" they'd ask, and he'd repeat, "Scotlandia!   You know the Riad on the hill!"  "Ohhh...." they'd say, "Englaterra!"  Word to the wise cabbie... I you are looking for a tip, don't tell refer to someone from Scotland as being from England!"  (really bad form! Think William Wallace- Braveheart). 

      The view from his terraces was awesome.  We could see the mountains with the firebreaks cut into them.  The owner said that the king of Morocco used that for his hunting wild pigs.

It must be really beautiful in the winter when the surrounding mountains, which completely surround Chefchaouen, are covered in snow.

   We could also see surrounding homes and it amazed me how beautiful they are.  Most are even prettier inside than out.

Not a great neighborhood if you have bad knees as most of the homes are four stories high.

    I didn't know whether to congratulate this little guys mom and dad for ingenuity or call CPS.  I guess you do what you gotta do to survive.  He looks like a prisoner but that's what Moroccans must think when they see our playpenalpens...I mean our playpens.
So many times I've seen what I thought was insane in countries like Morocco - like a baby, yes a baby sitting on the top of a cormorant fishing boat on the Li River in China.  That's bad enough, but the boat was moving at about 30 mph.
   Of course, my brother and I use to stand on the back of a pickup truck to keep watermelons from falling off as my Dad drove home for the market.  It was fun... until you got a "pis" chill from going over the Wolf River!!

     As I'm hanging off of his terrace, forty feet in the air, I'm thinking, "Really?  Fall in Morocco!?  Is this something I should be doing??"  I looked down and saw huge piles of sand, gravel, and 100 bags of cement.
    They were lying next to a home that had a foundation poured.  When I asked the owner what was going on he told me that the next day there'd be 10 guys working like worker bees mixing concrete, wheelbarrowing it up to the foundation and repeating the process 1000 times.  No cement mixer - just human mixers!  They started at sun up and didn't stop till sundown.  In the South, we call that working from "Can to Can't" in reference to working from the time you CAN see, to the time you CAN'T see!  Brother!  That is a lonnnnnngggg day!
   These guys didn't stop for any smokes or drinks.  They had a couple of breaks for lunch and snack and back at it again.  Wonder what their union would say?  The next picture shows a boy watching, only he's doing more than that.  The owner said that the boys learned that the fish market needs paper to wrap their fish.  Paper that won't crumble when it gets wet.  So when the guys tear open cement, they cut it at the end, dump it out and throw it aside.  The boys run over take the bags (think crows or rats stealing something shiny, only they aren't stealing!) wash them out and sell them to the fish market.  Clever entrepreneurial spirit!!  I love it!

at first, the homes look, a bit blue, as if they were hesitant about painting their house the same color as someone else.

     The walk to the city from the Riad is about 2 miles and fun.  I passed thru a mini village and saw enough sheep and goats to start a Armenian dating service.  It was a good walk, and finally, a view of the valley and the town below!  From a distance, you can see that the entire city isn't painted blue... but when you get down to the city, via a steep path, it explodes with color.

Then.... blue....



Some of the kids are playing in a drinking fountain.  Being a keen disciple of Sherlock Holmes I deduct that his feet are blue from playing in the water... or he has a blue pair of Crocs on.

       They sell the paint, and it looks like the old Tempura paint that teachers use to get to mix paint.  Yes, that was before schools fell into money and teachers actually use to mix their own paint.  It probably was cheaper in the long run to buy premixed paint, because people like me, got too creative and ended up painting a life size blue whale on the parking lot pavement.  It was great - it taught kids about how to transfer from a graph, however, there were two problems: 1. every time someone drove in the parking lot, they tracked blue throughout the neighborhood, and 2. the whale eventually washed through the entire neighborhood when it rained!  It's okay, now... save for old man McGunty's driveway, which serves him right for being grumpy all the time... even before I dyed his driveway blue!!

        Whatever is not painted blue, is painted a khaki/orange color and provides a wonderful contrast to the blue.  This picture was taken from my outdoor terrace and is looking at the kasbah across the way.

You have to admit, khaki/orange is an apt description!!  Call Mr. Crayola!  I want dibs on the name!
By the way, the man who named/invented most of the Crayola crayons ... was blind... and now you know the rest of the story!

    If you don't duck, you'll join the blue parade and have a shiner on your noggin'.   I.. know first hand.  Bad habit, not looking up.

But really, was the guy who built this walk way 4 feet tall and angry at the world??

Maybe use balsa wood if you are going to build a ceiling so low!


  There was one section of town that was nothing short of Ridiculous Blue... (I made that color up!!)  But really, it looked like the neighbors got together and said, "Fine!  If the HOA is going to make us all have blue...when we really want cherry red, then let's make a .... a... Ridiculous Blue!!

   Can you say, Ice Blue Velva?  It was like being in a Disneyland ride.  I kept waiting on a luge to come screaming around the corner and knock me into Palookaville.



     This neighborhood needed signs posted that said, "We do Blue!" It's amazing how your brain works.  The brain said that it should be so cold that it was hot, like hot ice, but it was just plain ol' warm plaster.  

      I would have liked to have gone in some of the homes, but the ones I did go in were amazingly organized and well kept.  I say that, because some of them had goats running all over the front yard or broken buckets.  The inside person is doing there job, but the outside person is slacking!

    Apparently, exceptionally cute kids are exempt from wearing blue.  This lady saw that we were about to take a picture.  She had been gently tapping on the door and then when she saw us with the cameras, she began banging on the door. Either she got the runs and had to get to the toilet pronto or she was afraid I was going to steal her soul.   One's as bad as the other at the moment!

     However, there are kids who are exceptionally cute that do wear blue!  Another grumpy lady.  I wanted  to scream, "Would you PLEASE direct me to the person who told you that a camera can steal your soul!  I want to congratulate him for being the salesman of the year!"

    We headed up the street toward a cafe that I had heard about and the directions given to me were classic..."You head up a street that's blue..."  I always want to say, "Wow, that's really clear.  Thank you for giving me such focused directions.  Perhaps next time someone asks you for directions you could use that crazy new inventions... street names!!'   No, we never did find the restaurant.
   But we did come across a guy I had met the day before when I went into the city alone.  He, too, was a classic.  Here's the conversation:
local -  Hello!  Step into my shop.  No pressure.
me - uhhh no, I'm good!
local - I tell you my friend.  No pressure.  Just come look at rugs.
me - uhhh, noooo..... I don't have a house.  Rugs are heavy.  Thanks though.
local - Where are you from?
me - (okay, I'll bite)  USA and you?
local - Chefchaouen.  Where in these United States?
me - Arizona.
local - I have been there.  My brother has a restaurant.  I know Arizona.
me - Excellent.  you have a great day... bye
local -my wife has made beautiful rugs.
and so it went.   And the next day when walking with the Mississippi couple, he went ahead and she was with me in a shop.  We came out and we saw her boyfriend with the man and I said, "Watch, here comes the Moroccan Shuffle!"  and sure enough, he went right into the routine.  He bought a rug.  Fishing was good that day!
     Later that day, I decided to get a haircut and when leaving the Riad, I don't know what happened, but I must have stepped on some blue ice or something, and slipped and before I knew it, I had called on the marble stairs, landing on my left arm three inches south of my elbow.

 I thought it was broken and visions of going to a doctor/hospital didn't seem very enticing.  It swoll up and looked like my calf, with a huge knot on it.  Kinda like a goose egg a kid gets when he hits his head on the monkey bars...oh right...lawyers - we don't have monkey bars anymore.  But thank goodness we still have goose eggs!  This is a picture on day four.


      Anyway, in the best way I know how to deal with a problem - to ignore it!- I went and got a haircut.

There is nothing quite so relaxing as a haircut...okay, that's not exactly true, but it is very relaxing.  This  barber was funny.  He knew just enough English to make jokes, but well, jokes yes, good jokes, not so good.  He was fun though.

     After the haircut I met a guy from New Zealand and a guy from New York... and me from New Arizona... yes, that's typical of the barber's jokes!

    We decided to go watch the European finals between Italy and Spain.  Spain demolished them which was good because they played excellent team ball and Italy relied on a ball hog, and a hot dog.
The night before I watched the Italy/Germany game - which you can see on the TV.  Not sure that the restaurant would have passed the health inspection....anywhere.  

This was the last straw.  The last blue straw.  When you start painting trees, it's time to leave the country!!!  I was on a plane to Spain the next day!!