Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Marrekech Morocco - a trip to the Souq June, 2012

     Okay, so I want to buy a few trinkets for souvenirs, where to go??? Walmart....uhhhh NO.  How about a trip to Psychoville???  Only this is a fun trip.  Let's start from my Riad door.


Oh lookee lookee!  There's my main man, the peach salesman!  Darn good peaches too, only you have to wash them first.  No problem.  I take them back to my Riad, wash them, eat them with the breakfast Abdullah makes, which is carb city, and continue on my journey.  I feel bad for the old men who will be working till the day they draw their last breath.  Makes me really appreciate my pension, capitalism and the good ol' USA.

 Next to encounter are the women in traditional garb... who do not want you to take their picture.  They tend to frown upon it... though I don't know how you can tell??

  Now to avoid some of the crazy mini bikes, and motorcycles, and horse drawn carts, in other words to arrive at the Souq in one piece, I take a short cut through this deceptively peaceful looking street.

And who is waiting for me??  This old feller didn't have a tooth in his head, but what a great smile!  He was so proud of his oral vacancy.  He didn't ask for money, try to sell me Tampons, or even ask for money to take his photo!   The explanation is simple - he's lost his mind!

The Souq of Marrakech is in my opinion, the best in Morocco.  It is a nightmare for someone without a sense of direction unless that person just dives in and enjoys the show.  You can always hire a 12 year old to show you the way back to your riad for 5 dirham.  It's like a gigantic Walmart.  One person owns  a deodorant aisle, another person owns a fruit aisle, another owns a tea shelf, and so on.  This is the nut and dried fruit salesman.  Looks like the tail gunner of a B-17.

Even in something as seemingly chaotic as the Souq, there is order.  The closer you get to the outside edges of the Souq, the more smelly things are kept.  My uneducated guess is so that the smell can escape to the elements, as opposed to being trapped under the tarps in the center.

This is one of the spice merchants.  I wish him well, but never saw him make one sale.

A fellow traveller and I were looking at paintings and we found a "store" in the Souq selling beautiful paintings.  The merchant takes several down from the shelf and unrolls them on the floor.  Not sure I want my art work, rolling on the floor of the Souq.  Then a cat shows up and walks across the work of art.  Okay, definitely don't want my art work with cat paw prints on the picture.

    You know you are at one end of the Souq when you reach the tanneries.  Not the most pleasant neighborhood to be in!  Whoa!  The odor is somewhere between atrocious and debilitating!   The odor doesn't exactly waft (ohhhh... I like that word) across the Souq, it attacks!  These are the pits that are used to dye the different skins.


What could be better than the combination of water and pigeon poop, which is used to treat the skins.

If I had to work this guy's job, there wouldn't be a safe tourist in Marrakech.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
Sir Winston Churchill

Day 5 Camino de Santiago July 10th, 2012

Camino de Santiago - July 10, 2012  day 5
    Leaving the Auberge and five days of no sleep was getting a bit tiring.  I enjoyed the food and drink, all reasonably priced and good quality.  But for whatever reason, I can't sleep.  This dorm had about 15 bunk beds and I, once again had a top bunk.  I can't do a top bunk after walking 20 miles. Things that are suppose to bend, don't, and things that aren's suppose to bend do, so... I sit on the couch in the sitting room and read books.  It's usually cooler and has less smell of socks!!  The words mean, "path of forgiveness". I believe I might have to walk this several times!

 I'm glad they had this sign so I would be able to calculate the number of sleepless days ahead!  I will contact Guinness and see what the record is for sleepless days!!
Yea!!  We're in the 600's!!
Don't you love how everyone is getting into the Camino spirit??  Even beer maker - San Miguel supports us!!
Aren't we lucky!
Actually, we pilgrims keep many many of the towns along the Camino financially afloat.  Imagine 80 pilgrims paying to sleep, paying to eat, buying water, buying meds, etc.

  We walk into so many beautiful little towns.  Towns that we don't even know the names of.  Sure, we could look at our maps, we each have one, but we're too tired to make the effort.  Besides, half of them are too small to be on a map.


 But the amazing thing is, seldom do we ever see anyone.  It's like one of the Twilight Zone shows.  I expect to walk into a shop and see people frozen in motion.  Maybe they're all movie sets.  Maybe they've been evacuated...

    I love seeing the incredibly manicured gardens that so many people have along the way.  I'm thankful that my Dad taught me what different crops are and that Mom taught me so many of the trees.  I'm amazed that so many people don't know a fig from a sycamore tree!!

 This is the Punta de Reina which is a famous bridge in the town of.... Punta de Reina!
Stuff was about to hit the fan.  Rebecca pulled up lame and Carmen and I had to put her down... Not exactly, but that was an inside joke.  Sorry.  Rebecca's knee was hurting so bad that we went to the hospital, and had her knee checked out and Kevin's bandage changed.  After hearing the doctor tell Rebecca that she had walked her last kilometer, I didn't want him looking at my arm...or knee for that matter.
    Carmen went to the one place you can always find people, a bar, to find someone who would drive Rebecca to the next big town, Estella, which is about 21 k away.  The only person she could find was slamming down cognacs and wine.

 Amazingly, she made it to the hospital.  !  Here are the four, Rebecca the Lame, Luis, who is a dead ringer for Charles Barkley, Kevin the Cut, and Carmen the Acrobat.  A greater group you'll never find.

We made it too, though it was a very very long day.  30k total.  Beautiful, as always though.

 The terrain changed dramatically, and we began hiking through vineyards and wheat fields.  The trail seldom was paved and that meant carrying the pack.

We came across a cool map outlined with tires on the side of a hill.  I think I would have done something like that either as a kid or as a teacher.  I can imagine a boy's dad saying, "Quit daydreaming and go pick some grapes!"  and the boy constructing the map and dreaming of far off places...yes, yes, I believe that's the origin of the tire map!

      Can you imagine the fun to be had as a kid, (or as an adult!!) atop the bales of hay??  Can you imagine one very angry farmer chasing you with a pitchfork.  I had an angry farmer chasing me in Switzerland when I was walking through his field, trampling his cut hay that he wanted to dry.  I was not aware of what I was doing, but he was.

Could be Tuscany??


This building was apparently built on rollers because as we walked toward it, it never got closer!! It looked like it was about 3k away but it took us 2 hours to reach it.

Finally, we made it to Estella.  Quite a beautiful city with an old church built in the 16th century and an older church built in the 12th century.  I think it's good to build a new church every 400 years or so.  I imagine the conversation as the local priest tried to get a new church:
Priest: our church is crumbling.  We need a new church.
Cardinal: But it's only been 400 years since we last built you a church.
Priest: But gargoyles and chunks of blocks fall off and hit our parishioners.
Cardinal:  Hmmm... might be a good time for you to brush up on your Extreme Unction skills, eh?

It was here that Luis, Carmen and Rebecca left for their home in Toledo.  Kevin and I were sorry to see them go!

To be surrounded by good folks is not something to be taken lightly.  In my career, I was always blessed to be surrounded by the best.  I valued it then and I value it now, as well.

Happiness depends upon ourselves.

Day 4 Camino de Santiago July 9th, 2012

July 9, 2012 Camino de Santiago

We (I say we, because invariably, you meet many people headed or interested in the same thing, so you do things together like...) like agreeing to go to Pamplona and seeing the bulls run.  Three Spaniards, Luis and his sister Rebecca, and their friend Carmen and Kevin the Cut and I decided to walk into Pamplona (3 miles) and see if we could see the bulls run, knowing full well that we would get there 5 hours too late for any kind of a view.  I knew the route of the bulls because I had walked it 2 or 3 times a week ago, so I had an idea of where we might steal a glance.  As we walked the streets, which were pretty deserted as everyone had made their way to the route to see the bulls, we walked through streets full of litter and street cleaners.

     There is a famous curve
 where the bulls are running and have to make a 90 degree turn on slick cobble stone streets.  Some don't make the turn and fall side ways and skid into the side walls.  At 7:55AM, five minutes before the gun shot to start the bulls, we make our way to the curve.  Luis, offers to watch my backpack as he doesn't want to see the bulls.  I try to hop on the boards, but people are drunk and standing on top of it or sitting.
     The gun sounds and a minute later the bulls are running.  There is incredible screaming in the street, which I can barely see.  Then I hear people running, yelling and hooves behind. I am looking over shoulders, between legs, as others doing, to see if I can see the bulls when, WHAM!  a bull slams into the side walls, sending people scurrying away and WHAM! another bull slams into the wall, and I see his feet sticking through the horizontal railroad ties that are used as sidewalls.
    Quickly, I remove the bottle of San Miguel that is pouring into my shoe, thank you drunk lady, and hop with one foot on he railroad ties, and see three brown and white bulls running at me.  I turn on the camera and get 3 seconds of film of the bulls and people running!
    I will remember Pamplona.

I was dancing on air as we walked out of Pamplona and on to our next night, not realizing that one of us would not be continuing the journey much longer.  Now that I've created a bit of suspense, I wanted a picture of a cool looking building.

 The trail gets a bit confusing when leaving Pamplona, well why shouldn't it, so do the roads!  We met an old man and he was hilarious.  We needed just to know left or right, and he went on and on and on and...about where the path goes that is not the Camino.

Luis, the nicest guy on earth, couldn't tell him to stop blathering so while he politely nodded his head, we began the trail laughing.  The terrain is getting a bit flatter, a bit warmer, and the vegetation will be changing with it.  First we went through gorgeous fields of sunflowers, like a Van Gogh.
    On what was suppose to be an easy flat day of walking, we somehow encountered a hugh hill, or small mountain.  On top were windmills and a very cool piece of iron work depicting the Camino.
   The surrounding views of the valley were astounding as well.  My pack seemed like I was carrying cast iron, but I think it was because I was expecting an easy day.  So much for expectations!!
   As we walked through endless fields of wheat and hay, Sting's song, "Fields of Gold" played in my head.  Funny, how when you sing a song to yourself, it sound's just like the original artist!  Yes, I know, to all those who have heard me sing, it's only my imagination.   The other thing I did was remember how good a piece of straw feels to suck on, and so I did.  It was as good as I remembered!

As you travel, you meet so many people from different countries and everyone develops a bond of sorts.  I've bumped into these two who I believe are from either Spain or Italy.  We've never introduced ourselves, but it really isn't necessary.  You just nod, maybe a "Hola" and then "Bien Camino".  It produces a smile and a feeling of, "You're gonna make it!"  Sometimes, that's enough to get you to the next hostel.

Yes, it was hot.

Many years have passed since those summer days among the fields of barley.
See the children run as the sun goes down among the fields of gold.
You'll remember me when the west wind moves upon the fields of barley.
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky when we walked in fields of gold,
When we walked in fields of gold, when we walked in fields of gold.