Tuesday, October 23, 2007

13 October, 2007

I parted from the group today and made my way south through the flooded areas south of Maraira and had to fjord through water that was a foot deep in some places. It is a good thing that my bike sits so high, but I had to switch shoes so I wouldn't ruin my leather shoes. I road through the hills in search of the monastary on the hill that was shown in the guide books, but had to back track several times due to washed out roads or bridges being knocked down. I thought the rain was abnormal when I took Ann to the train station, but I watched people shoveling mud out of their houses, people pushing their cars or helping others get through the still flooded areas. What a tragedy for some of these people. 3 left dead and over 300 people are displaced because their homes are no longer habitable.

One thing about this tragedy is that the civil workers in Spain were immediately on site and assisting with clearing roads, getting people into shelters and helping get life back on track for these small town people. This is quite the contrast to what we have seen in our country under this government. Sure, as humans we tend to want to help, but there is just too much beaurocracy in the US to move quick enough to give help when it is needed most - immediately after a tragedy.

After several hours of small roads, small cities and many detours due to the rains in this coastal part of Spain and I finally arrive in Cartagena. One thing that stikes me as odd...or perhaps it doesn't, is that the rains in Spain don't mainly stay on the plain. I may be able to joke about it now, but a couple of days ago I almost became a casualty as well. I didn't think of it at the time, but I should never have tried to fjord the flooded roads like I did. I saw too many cars that had floated away because someone tried to do the same thing.

After hours of walking the city of Cartagena in search of an internet café, I stumbled across an Irish Pub. How does one walk past a pub with a sign stating Murphy’s Red? Good thing I didn’t, otherwise I would never have met the owner and crew of a boat enroute to New Zealand via Africa’s west coast/South America’s eastern coast, around Antarctica and thru the straights that run between Tierra del Fuego and Palmer Peninsula. The cost of this endeavor must rest in the millions of dollars. The owner and “instigator” of this trip is an English bloke (can you use “bloke” when the person is in their late 60’s or early 70’s?) who has engineered many lighting shows for various long running productions. Who knew that the lighting engineers (apparently if you got in early enough you can command larger check than the youths that weren’t born when Churchill was a key player of a global power) garnered the same sort of residual checks that a musician might. Apparently there is nothing like getting a salary for figuring out how to turn on a bunch of lights in a synchronized manner.

Okay, I think that I digressed from my original mission which was the internet. After much dialogue (read: two beers) with the Aussie bartender and the sailor that turns on lights for a living, I sorted out from the sailor (aren’t they good at navigating?) that the internet café was to the right and then left, “You can’t miss it”. After venturing off with these directions, I found that if I am not given proper directions that I can “miss it”. I continued onward and went made a large circle without finding the internet café. All I have to say, if these guys are relying on this dude to get them there, they are very fucked! He can’t seem to navigate within a very small city and that brings doubts to my mind that he might have issues within this small world that we live in. Granted…he only just started in Antibes, France (just up the coast) and hasn’t had to make any turns yet. I wouldn't trust him to guide the submarine that was mothballed and placed as a monument at the entrance to the port.

Okay, I really need to get back on track… I have had to stop in three more bars than that first one just to triangulate on the one internet café in this town (4 to be exact). At long last (and no thanks to my navigator buddy that thinks that he can get around the world…good thing that he pays someone to navigate for him) I made it and sat for a very long time. I don’t know if I did any good, I wrote a few things that people may or may not read, I read a few things that I may or may not have understood and ultimately I had to stand up to forage for some food. That however entailed a walk back across the town stopping in every pub hoping they were still serving food. If my bladder would have been cooperative, I might have been able to make it to this grungy little tapas bar quite a bit faster than I did. I just can’t seem to pee in someone’s restaurant without ordering a beer, so my trip sort of went like this…beer, beer, beer - internet/pee, walk 20 ft - beer/pee, walk 300 meters –beer/pee, walk 250 meters – beer/pee, walk 1000 meters – pee/beer/tapas/beer/tapas, walk 400 meters to hotel, pee/pass out.

Hmmm…did I really need to get into all that peeing stuff? I really just wanted to describe the tapas bar I found that was once (perhaps) the central focus of the town’s social circle. There is a long counter with an opening at one end and has a tiled wall with four shelves full of empty bottles on the top three. The one thing you notice is that there are, literally, layers of dust on the empty bottles. For most people of this decade (century perhaps) that may seem like a very strong deterrent, but instead it brought out some nostalgia in me. Scanning the shelves I noticed that the top three levels of bottles probably have sat untouched/dusted for perhaps 10 years for the lowest of the three and perhaps 50 for the top on. The telephone on the wall behind the counter was right out of a Fellini film (Yes, I am aware that Fellini is Italian) and can probably still be dialed. Yes, it predated the rotary phones I grew up with, but isn’t as old as my wooden wall hanging phone. My guess is that it was the first telephone the town had and everyone that needed to make a call gathered here for a pint and tapas.

Flooding in small towns
Sadness on the rural routes
Too much rain in Spain

Dust on top of dust
Bottles from a time long past
Greasy good tapas

Language not my own
Aged man no respect from young
Sad generation

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