Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Marakech, Morrocco

I am now in Marakech this is my 4th day here in Morrocco. I have been to Tetouan and to Chefchouan, they are smaller cities near to the big Port city of Tangiers. Morrocco is unlike any other place my travels have taken me. It is a real culture shock. The way the people dress is fantastic!!! There can be no doubt that I am in a North African, Arab country. The men wear these long hooded robes over their garments. They look like O.B.Juan Kanobee from Starwars This is the normal outfit. Some men wear western garb but most are dressed in traditional arab dress. the women needless to say about 85% are wearing headscarfs and about 25 percent of these are wearing a complete coverup kind of thing.Skin is a no-no here. Alcohol is absent also You dont see any.It is very few people who speak english quite a few speak french and some speak spanish. I am getting along alright with my spanish and a little english. I have twice been advised not to tell anyone that I am an American. This is the second country where anyone ever told me to lie about my nationality. The other time was on Gilli Trawanga in Indonesia. I guess a lot of the young bucks are all fired up about the USA foreign policy. They dont like our support for Israel and they are against our fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most people understand that the USA government doesnt represent the American people and has not for the last 60 or 70 years. But there are a few hot heads who dont quite get it. So I have been telling people I am from New Zealand since I bought that nice all blacks hat in Olamaru with the silver fern and the Words New Zealand written on it (I can just see Anna Mathieson grimacing as she reads this). Anyway its a great hat made of possom and wool...The most annoying thing about this place is the preponderance of touts and hustlers. After a month in Turkey I got used to people being friendly and nice and not wanting money from you all the time. So far all the Morracan people (males anyway) that have said hi to me wanted money. They follow you around and offer to show you how to get to your hotel. Then they ask for money for being your guide. I had two of them accost me in Chefchouan. They walked me to the hotel and then demanded 100 euros!!!! I told them off in no uncertain terms in English and spanish Where they were at. I am spending about 15 euros per day on food and lodging!!! They wanted enough money for me to live on for a week! I wound up giving them, 5 DH each 12 DH equals one euro. The guy who put my bag in the bus wanted 10DH. Everyone wants money. They are quite aggressive about it too. Here is an example.When I got to Tetouan a dude called Abdul Nazif carries my bag up 3 flights of stairs and gives me a 3 hour tour of the town and the old medina or market place.The tour was fantastic. He took me to the stalls where the people make shoes and clothing and weave cloth from wool and the place they tan leather and to a cool restaurant and to a nice tea house where only Morrocan men go.(as we entered this is where he told me if anyone asks tell them you are from Mexico) so we sit down and have some of the excellent mint tea that everyone here drink all the time and in about 30 seconds someone hands me a kif pipe. In Morrocco all the men smoke this stuff called kif. It is about 90% very potent marijuana and 10% tobacco. it is smoked in a tiny pipe with a stem that is about half a meter long(18 inches) It is what is known in USA as one hit shit!!! I took two puffs and declined anymore.So the next day at the bus depot this other guy comes up to me real friendly like and tells me I should take the blue taxi to Chefchouan instead of the bus. He says he saw me with Abdul Nazif and he is a friend of his. He is only telling me for my own good. Because he says the carpet salesman Abdul took me too is furious because I didnt buy any carpets and he will rat me out to the police that I got hashish from Abdul (which I did not) so I know the guy is a bull shit rat because I didnt get any drugs. He tells me Even if I did not get any the carpet dealer probably will have the baggage handler plant dope in my bag and tell the cops.If I take a blue taxi (special long distance taxi)no one will touch my bags but me. How much is a blue taxi? I ask. Well, it turns out his friend has one and will take me to Chefchouan for 80 euros. About 900 DH. Bus ticket is 17 dh. I ask him if he thinks all foreigners are stupid or is it just me? What? he says.So I tell him to go away in English and Spanish. He says okay but you'll be sorry...Yeah right.This is the kind of thing I mean. This would never happen in Turkey. Marakesh is great. I have starteds to adjust to Morrocco it is a little wierd. No eye contact or they want to sell you something. The touts (street salesman) are so aggressive that you must not shake their hand (they wont let go) or even answer them. They follow you down the street until you tell them 2 or 3 times to leave you alone. Very aggressive. I will take in the sights of Marakesh tomorrow. Then I think I will join up with a group and take a 2 or 3 day trip into the Sahara on Camels and in Jeeps and camp out and see an oasis with a waterfall.Every night near the main square in Marakesh, 100 meters from my hotel, there occurs at dusk one of the worlds great spectacles (according to the lonely planet guide) The square completely fills up with all these yummy food stalls and jugglers acrobats snake charmers dancers husslers of every kind some playing the old 3 card monty or the arab rope trick and some hussles I have never before seen, you name it. Totally wild and crazy. Great sights sounds smells and flavors. I had the goats head soup (seriously). It was quite good. I have also had cous cous and some wonderful red lentil soup for breakfast one day. Here in Morrocco they dont give you silver ware. You eat with your hands and with a piece of bread. Did I say hands, I meant hand. It is impolite to eat with your left hand.Besides them not giving you silverware they also dont give you toilet paper they give you a little bucket of water and you wipe your bottom with the water using your left hand. So... no one eats with their left hand or points or hands you anything You use your right hand for anything social.Your left for wiping your butt.I spent 3 days in Madrid before coming here. I loved it. After Morrocco I will return to Spain, and for a couple of days before I leave to Madrid . I will write again soon.

Its all good over here.


Friday, November 19, 2004

Istanbul, Turkey

Hi Everyone,
I am back in Istanbul Turkey. I will be here for the weekend and then will fly to Madrid Spain on Monday 22/11/04 to catch a train to Algecira and then a ferry to Tangiers Morrocco. Plan to be in Morrocco for 3 or 4 weeks and then back to Spain for 3 or 4 weeks.Since last you heard from me, I was in Olympos Turkey. God it was a great place!! I just dug it. Stayed for 6 days and 7 nights. Livin in a tree house. Eating oranges and all kinds of Turkish food mainly centered around Aubergines (eggplant) tomatoes and chilis. Every night there would be a big bonfire and all the world travelers and vacationing Turks would tell their life stories and recent adventures and hopes and dreams were exchanged as well as e-mail addresses. I met some totally awesome people many of whom will now be on my travel updates. In Fetiyah I met a guy named Chris who works half the year in Antarctica and half the year as a bicycle tour guide who is taking a year or two off and traveling. and a woman named Petra from England who has lived all over the world teaching Spanish in English countries and English in Spanish countries and has visited more countries than me!!! (I am now up to 36)She and Chris and my buddy Nick traveled around Turkey to Olympos Egirdir Konya and then to Kapadokya together.Egirdir is a beautiful lake town in the mountains of South-Central Turkey. It is Turkeys 4th largest lake at about 600sq kilometers. They catch lots of Bass trout and carp as well as other fish and serve them in the local restaurants.Bad weather there so we split after two days and went to the wonderful Eastern city of Konya.Konya is like the spiritual heart of Turkey. It is the birthplace of the Sufi religion. Sufism is really a mystic branch of Shia Islam. A sort of cross between Islam and buddhism.The practioners are known as dervishes and we were lucky enough to be granted an audience with the imam of the local derva (mosque). Sufism is illegal in Turkey or perhaps a better word is prohibited. I dont really understand why because the Turks are pretty accepting of other peoples religions but this is the facts of the matter. It was hard to locate the Derva (because it is underground so to speak)and after pestering everyone we met we finally got a sleazy carpet dealer to take us to a certain Cobblers shop (after Chris bought 2 carpets from him), and after some (brief)questioning we were taken to a little home with no sign or minaret or markings of anykind. Inside we waited about 20 minutes and then a middle age man in a turban and a big long beard appeard and blessed us with "Salaam Alechem" and we "Alechem salaamed" back to him.He went into a 10 minute discourse on the history of Sufism. (The carpet salesman kissed his hand and touched his forehead to it and then he was our translator) Then he invited us to ask any questions we may have. He allowed us to stay and question him for about 90 minutes and then allowed us to watch as his followers arrived and they did evening prayers and then he demonstrated sacred movements and did the whirling dervish thing for us and WWWhhooaaa what a cool day for me. Maybe one of the coolest ever. The dude is so charismatic all of us just sat there on the carpets and cushions grinning like a bunch of drunk school children. A very heavy man indeed. While we were there a few of the other followers came in with special problems and they told him and he gave them prayer/poems to recite and one guy he moved a big shepherds staff over him and prayed and then opened a bottel of mineral water and said prayers to the water with his prayer beads and breathed into it with each prayer and gave the guy the holy water for a medicine. We Stayed in Konya for the first day of Bayram the feast that ends Ramazan and then went to Kapadokya.Kapadokya is a geological wonderland of magical looking mountains and outcroppings of rocks and ancient cave dwellings and underground cities that housed up to 5000 people and fairy chimneys and fantastic hiking trails through surrealistic looking valleys. Long ago before man came here fairys dwelt in this place and when humans came they turned themselves into pigeons. There are thousands and thousands of pigeons here whose droppings make the valley super fertile as farmland. The odd Penis shaped rock formations are called fairy chimneys and are made of soft stone which gets its weird shapes from centurys of wind erosion. They are more or less easily hollowed out and made into dwellings and there are tens of thousands of them, some inhabited and some abandoned. We explored many of them. This place is way too far out for me to describe so I suggest you all look for it on the net and check it out it is truly amazing.So now I am back in Istanbul and will split up with my friends. Nick will go to Bulgaria, Chris to Syria and Petra is not sure either to Syria or Jordan. Me Im still on the road a-headed for another joint the only thing I know how to do is to keep on keeping on Like a bird that flew but tangled up in blue.I will write from Morrocco. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in America.
Nothing but Love to all of you,

Personal to RB: did you get the absinth?Personal to Suzy and John: Im thinking of visiting for a month or so in 2005 to study yoga and crash at your house if its okay.

Personal to the Professor: I got you a cool Meersham pipe, Ill give it to you on January 15

Friday, November 05, 2004

Photos from Turkey




Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Olympos, Turkey

Hi everyone. I am in Turkey on the Southern Mediteranean coast in a tiny place called Olympos which is the legendary home of the god of fire. Since you all heard from me last I have been in Greece mainly on an island in the Ionian Sea called Corfu which was very beautiful and nice. It is slow season around these parts and everything is uncrowded and cheap. Weather is perfect about 22=25c or 80=85f in the daytime and it cools down to about 12c or 50f at night. It hasnt rained here for about 4 months and its sure not going to today. The sky is as blue as the sea and not a cloud to be seen. I just got back from swimming in the Mediteranean. The water is crystal clear and it only takes a coupel of seconds to get used to the temperature. You can stay in the water for an hour at a time without discomfort.I am staying in a tree house (I swear) it costs 7 US dollars a night and it includes breakfast and Dinner. It is a 10 minute walk to the sea with Roman ruins on the right and a gentle little stream on the left, I might just stick around here for a little while like 5 days or a week. It is too nice to leave.This is the legendary home of the god of fire. On top of the nearest mountain (this place is in a beautiful wooded valley)There is a natural phenomenon where some mysterious type of gas comes up through crevices in the earths surface and ignites when it comes in contact with the atmosphere. This has been going on for a couple of thousand years. So the ancients built a big temple to the god they called Vulcan and worshiped him. Makes sense to me. I will go there tonight and perhaps sacrifice a male goat to appease the god and ask for luck, I will sharpen my saber as soon as I click off...So I have been to Edirne in Turkey and went to the grand Moscque which is supposed to be the most beautiful in the world. It was truly magnificent inside and out. Took a turkish bath. What an incomparable experience. They give you a sauna and you pour hot water over yourself (to cool off!) and they then give you a massage and crack your back and then they soap you up from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet and rinse you off with hot water and repeat the whole process again. Unbelievabley great feeling. I was a little homophobic at first but its completely non sexual and too great to describe with words. After two washes he soaps you up yet a third time and this time puts on a course mitten and scrubs your skin, Holy Caroly I never felt so clean in my whole life!!! Then you dry up and get dressed and they give you this lovely lemony cologne water and send you off into the night.Went to Istanbul for 3 days and saw all the incredible architectural sites and had a ramadan breakfast at half past 7 at night in the shadow of the blue mosque with the immam chanting in arabic while we ate lamb kebabs and had pea soup. I love my life, truly I do.Then went to Selcuk and visited the ancient ruins of Ephesus where Saint Paul once preached in the amphitheater that seats 30,000 people. This is right near the tomb of Mary the mother or Jesus and John the apostle, thousands of christian pilgrims come here every year. The ruins are among the best in all of turkey and are truly awesome. Next day went to a little village called Siringe which is famous for its WINE oh yes I still like a little wine now and then... This village however is famous for fruit wines. We tasted about 12 flavors includeing apple peach strawberry kiwi pineapple blueberry eldeberry and quince. All sweet and yummy we bought 3 bottles and took them back to the resort we were staying at ( Me, Nick the american guy I have been traveling with for 3 weeks now and Laurel a really Nice Canadien woman social worker who is 39 and about 2 meters tall) and we drank them and watched movies. Good fun.Next went to Fethiye on the Mediteranean and snorkeled and went out on a boat trip on a big Yacht all day and sunbathed and swam. Life sucks, what can I say?So now you are all up to date I am in Olympos. Will keep all of you informed. Please write back any/all of you. I love to hear from you.Nothing but Love,Rambling Robert the world traveler