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, October 29, 2006

Aswan, Luxor and the Red Sea

I understand that people make errors and I understand the law of averages. So I reckon that if people make change for you 1000 times they will make an accidental error maybe 30 or 40 times. Lets say 50 times. My understanding of the law of averages is that about 25 times they will give you too much money and 25 times they wont give you enough. Here in Cairo they make an error once in every four times they make change for a foreigner (me) and it is NEVER enough money. I have to count my change everytime or I get ripped off once in every four times!!

So...That being said, Peta and I are walking through a crowded out door market tonight where we bought some cheesy pastries and breadsticks and grapes for the midnight train to Luxor from Cairo. She is fumbling with her purse to give me some money. A few seconds later a guy taps her on the shoulder and hands her some crumpled up money that she dropped without knowing it!! A second later another woman taps her and gives her more of her money...Egyptian Arabs have been some of the nicest friendliest most honest people I have ever met.

Crossing the street in Cairo is like walking through a minefield on acid. There seem to be no traffic laws at all. No one crosses at corners or at crosswalks. People dodging in and out of 4 lanes of traffic. I have a good method. I get behind an Egyptian woman with kids and follow her so she is between me and on-coming traffic so...if the car wants to hit me it has to hit her first. We saw a guy get hit by a car crossing the street in Alexandria. It was not pretty, Not pretty at all.

I fulfilled one of my great ambitions as a traveller tonight when I walked across a bridge over the Nile River. Imagine... The Nile of songs, of poems, of biblical passages, the river that turned to blood when it was struck by the staff of Moses, The river that drains half the continent of Africa.

I stood in the center of the bridge and watched the rapidly moving muddy brown waters of this great river pass beneath my feet. I love my life. I am fulfilling my dreams. Living out my own real life true adventure. What could be better than this? I am like a peaceful budhist Ernest Hemmingway.

Went down to the World famous Cairo Museum today. It is HUGE!! So many rooms filled with all kinds of antiquities from 30 40 50 CENTURIES ago!! Mummies, statues, King Tuts golden death mask, pottery, plates, tools, chariots, rooms full of sphinxs, weapons, coins, papyrus scrolls. UNBELIEVABLE. So much stuff that your mind becomes numb and you just cant take it all in anymore. Fascinating.

I am on page 300 of the Glorius Koran. I aim to read the thing from cover to cover. I have been at it for 3 weeks now. It is slow going!! Not an easy read. All these thees and thous and lots of fire and brimstone.

The Quo'Ran is the main scripture for the Muslim people. Muslims are those who have surrendered to Gods will. The religion is called Al Islam. The muslims are the faithful (fidelis in latin) non muslims are the non faithful (infidelis) If you aint a muslim you is an Infidel.

There is no God but allah and Mohammed is his Prophet
God is Great

That is what they chant from the minarets (towers) of the mosques 5 times a day to call the faithful to prayer. There are 1.2 Billion muslims in the world. They share the same god as the Jews and Christians. The God of Abraham (Ibrahim)
Muhammed was a direct descentdent(he said) of Abraham through his first son Ishmael. The Jews and Christians also believe there is no god but allah and that god is great. After that there are a few differences which cause all hell to break lose!!! It is all about Faith...

"Conscious faith is freedom. Emotional faith is slavery. Mechanical faith is foolishness."-G.I.Gurdjieff

The Quo'Ran is the heart of the Arab world. The heart of the Muslim world. Egypt is about 99% Muslim. To know Egypt I must know the Quo'Ran. I am trying my best but it isnt so easy. Islam in practice is a lot different from Islam in the Quo'Ran. Just like Judiasm and Christianity. All three religions are based on Faith (see above quote from Gurjieff), and all three religions are made up of men and women as followers who follow mechanically. So a lot of wierd stuff goes down in the name of the god of Abraham.

In Egypt they have this great vegetariean (vegan) dish called Koshary. It is two or three shapes of macaroni, layered with rice and lentil beans and crisy fried onions and garbanzo beans and served with a spicy tomatoe sauce on the side. They also serve a hot red sauce on the side that is brewed and botteled in Hell by Satan himself!!!!

I love the food here. Felafel with salad stuff and tahini sauce in a whole wheat peta pocket for 75 piasters (12 US cents) Ful (like Egyptian refried beans)called "Fool" with eggplant(aubergine,berenjena) and tomatoes on a whole wheat peta pocket costs 2 egyptian pounds (30 US Cents).

Luxor is the city you stay in if you want to visit the great tombs of Ramsis and Tempole of Luxor and some other interesting Archeological sites, Like Karnak and Temple of Hutsikunsup(forgive the spelling here it sounds like Hot Chicken Soup!!). Sadly the town is over-run with touts trying to sell everything they can or give you rides on horse drawn carriages or what ever. I feel like a baklava in a room full of flies! It is dirty and dusty and no fun. Stayed two night and now I am in Aswan.

Still un emplouyed or underemployed Egyptian guys everywhere trying to sell you anything they can. Crazy annoying. If you are polite to them they wont leave you alone you must be rude to get rid of them. This sucks. RB told me to write to him when I found a trash can. He was here in 1992 and never saw one. Well I found a trash can but no one uses it. The people litter everywhere. The whole country is one giant trash heap. Why doesnt the government put these un-employed touts to work cleaning up?

Aswan is cool (except for the hustellers). I might go to Abu Simbel tomorrow or the next day to see the great temple. You have to wake up at 3am to get the mini bus convoy at 4 there are only two convoys per day and foreigners arent allowed to go without the convoy. To Protect us from Terrorists. Since 1997 when the terrorists gunned down and killed 60 Europeans at temple of Hot Chicken Soup. So they put you in a convoy to "protect" you. Of course this only lets the terrorists know when you are going and where to ambush you...Duuhhh!!

My hotel has a pool on th roof top terrace/garden and today I am going to rest and relax at the pool. I feel tired from all the train travel and need to relax and recharge my travel batteries. I aint getting any younger you know!!

Well you wouldnt believe my trip from Aswan to Hurghada.
First the 8 oclock bus doesnt exist so I have to get there for the 6 oclock. Which guess what? shows up at 9 oclock. So I wake up at 5 for a 9 oclock bus.
Okay. Well whatever...

So the bus finally gets there and off we go on an 8 hour journey. 2 and a half hours later we break down in a town called Esno which is a real shit hole. We are stuck for SEVEN BLOODY HOURS in this unbelievably filthy-dirty fly and mosquito infested grimy littel Cafe which I swore I wouldnt even have a cup of tea in but eventually had to eat dinner there.

Finally another Upper Egypt Bus company bus comes but it is full up.So I have to ride sitting on the floor. Which is what i did for 6 hours, sitting in front of the toilet. At this point I am really thinking of just getting the next plane to Mexico and quit travelling for a few months!! Oh, The glories of being a traveller, ahhh the joys of Egypt.

Hurghada is okay. I arrived at 2 in the morning and took the first hotel which was nice. Next morning I switched to a nicer place with a Red Sea View balcony and a mini fridge Air Con TV hot water shower all for 50EP for a single. It costs 20EP (3.75US dollars) to crash the beach at a nearby resort but it is worth it because there are chaise lounge chairs, and an Arabian band (no kidding) and a gawwjuss and I mean GAW juss swimming pool as well as a nice spotlessly clean sand beach on the Red Sea. The water is delightful.

I will stay here for a week. I figure to leave on the fast ferry to Sharm el Sheik on Thursday morning. Stay at the beach in Dahab and take a couple of days to Climb Mt Sinai. Something I always wanted to do. Remember what Steve Tyler of Aerosmith sang..
"If I could
I surely would
Stand on the rock
where Moses stood"

Next update from Sinai. Here are two quotes to think about till then.

"Part of someone's being a good Muslim is his leaving alone that which does not concern him."-Abu Hurairah

"For the most part, only the light characters travel. Who are you that have no task to keep you at home?" Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace and Love
Rambling Robert

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Greetings from Egypt

North Africa

Stardate 17/10/006
Now I am in Cairo, Egypt. Great to be back in Africa. This planet has many continents, well actually only 4...They are all so very different from one another. Similar in some ways but really different. I do a lot of changing countries. Usually over land crossings so the changes are usually more or less subtle. When one changes continents the changes are not subtle. The sights and sounds are vastly differnt from Europe to Africa.

Bucharest was nicer to me the second time around. After our pleasant stay in Suceava we took a nice fast train to Bucharest. About 7 hours. Stayed at Butterfly Villa hostel near Piata Domenii. 5 star hostel. Excellent in every respect. Highly recommended by me. Met very nice folks there and the owners and workers were very good. Much better than my experience at the Funky Chicken.

There is a great huge park in the center of Bucharest. Bucharest is called the Paris of the East. Well....Maybe if you havent been to Paris!! There is a large Arc d'Triomphe statue and a statue of Charles De Gaule and a boulevard named for "he of the big nose". They join up with the great central park.

Angela and I had nice walks and quiet times in the park. Good fun shopping in Piata Domenii and lively conversations with the guests and staff at the hostel.

Angela is on her way to Peru now and I arrived in Aexandria Egypt on 13/10/006 at the indecent hour of 3 am.

Hassels at the airport. My passport Photo does not look like me. Guard didnt believe I was myself. Finally I was permitted entry.

Taxi drivers all around the world are the same. I hate these guys...
Bargained down the fair from 52 pounds to 25 pounds on a ride that should cost 15. That took 20 minutes and 3 drivers.

First guy wouldnt take me anywhere but the Ramada. He promised I would love the Ramada. I told him I had a reservation at another hotel. He said it didnt matter Ramada is better. Is best!!I told him if he liked it so well HE should stay there I am going to Crillon.

Finally get dropped in the square nearest to my hotel. Walking around for an hour with my backpack until, finally, I found the place. I knew from when I made my reso that it was two buildings from the Cedcil Hotel.

The Cecil is famous from days gone by and all the taxi hacks should know where it is . Somerset Maugham and Laurence Durell used to hang out here. It is right on the Cornice. The beautiful boulevard facing the Mediteranean Sea. I kept asking people where it was but no one seemed to know.Finally found it. What a relief.

So.. I Get in the elevator. A rickety wild open door lift from the 1920s, Then when I get out of the lift I catch my left ring finger in the gate. OHH Noo!! Aye Zukes!!! I am really tagged out. Aye Caramba!! Shaaa.. I mean this really hurts. It is pitch black in the hallway. I get into the Foyer and ring the bell the light goes on and I see my finger is REALLY TWEAKED I am bleeding all over the place. Shaa Zahh welcome to Africa, welcome to Egypt

Night clerk says "Salem Alechem Effendi" and then he notices the blood...
Beau Coup bandaids and a good squirt of medicated anticeptic goo and I am good as new except for the pain and throbbing. (I finally stopped bleeding after 2 days) I think my fingernail will fall off next week).

Alexandria rules dudes!! What a wonderful crazed chaotic place. Arab cities in my limited experience, are all a littel crazy. Well I guess Arabs are all a litatel crazy !! The people of Alexandria are sooo Friendly!!

It is just great!! Everyone talks to you. Everyone says Welcome to Egypt!! Lots of big grins and smiles. We are invited to free dinner on the sidewalk with the guys who are selling olives in a little stall where we are steet walking and shopping. They have a little folding table with Ful (warm cooked beans with tahini and cumin) Delicious rice Pilof, sardines (fresh not canned) cooked three ways, salad, olives, pickeled veggies. A drink made of water sugar and dried dates. Warm fresh arab bread like Pita bread but smaller and thinner,and more stuff I dont remember now. What a lovely feast. Then they bring out the tea and baklava and In the end they refuse to even hear about us paying them. I love Egypt!!

So we hang out in Alex for a couple of days more go to some beautiful mosques and see some extraordinary Caligraphy paintings in a cultural gallery in a really cool building and check out the castel built on the site of the famous Feros Light House one of the 8 wonders of the ancient world that was toppeled in an earthquake 1000years ago but waas said to tbe the first light house in the world...Then we bus off to Cairo about 4 hours south

Day one in Cairo is just getting oriented and ripped off by taxi hacks. Day two we hang out all day with fMosafa who is an acquaintence of Peta who is a friend of mine I am travelling with Whom I had met in Turkey a couple of years ago.

We see the great Citadel and the palace of Muhammed Ali and the museum of the military and the old Islamic center of the city with its narrow streets and Souks and Bazaars and perfumerys and spice stalls and touts trying to sell you all kinds of useless junk and waterpipes donkey carts and donkey shit on the streets and this amazing coconut juice drink called Sobia and ...and...and...

So then we take a taxi and a metro (subway)ride and a bus and another bus and 90 minutes later we are in a tiny oasis village and having Ramadan Breakfast with Mousafas family where the food is stacked up to your eyeballs and there is so much to eat it is almost funny. Highlighted by this great soup with orzo pasta in a tomatoey broth and baby eggplant (aubergine) stuffed with rice.

All the veggies are grown by Mousafas brother Achmed. His mother and Aunt have done all the cooking and his uncle is just clowning with me and rubbing my bald head and He doesnt speak any english but hs is a really cool guy dressed in a shirt that goes down to his ankels and a cool little hat on his head and Well here I am and...Jaahh I love Egypt!!

So the next day we go to Giza on a day trip to see the Great Pyramids and the Sphinks. Sphinx is way cool the Pyramids are, well you know, they are pyramids...

I guess I have been to too many pyramides all around the world to apreciate them fully. Though they are the biggest darned Pyramids this kid has ever seen! Lots of touts trying to sell you imaginary goods and camel rides and "hay mister take my picture give me Baksheesh". It is hot here and dusty and windy. This is a harsh envireonment to live in this Sahara dessert.
Next we visit Saaqara. Here are more ancient tombs and the great pyramid of Zoser. It isnt as big as Cheops (the worlds largest in Giza)and it doesnt have the same smooth sides but it is much older.

It is the oldest stone monument in the world it was built In the year 2650 BC. We check out a few tombs and ancient hierogliphics and see the remnants of a great ancient civilization. It is staggering at how the old kings spent the time and money of their subjects building these huge egoistical monuments to themselves. It is such camelshit but such fascinating camelshit...
Well...Okay kids, Thats all for now!
Here is a quote to think about
"There is always something to be thankful for. If you can't pay your bills, you can be thankful you are not one of your creditors." E.C. Mckenzie
Peace and Love to all of you
Rambling Robert

Thursday, October 05, 2006

travel update from Bucovina

Greetings from Suceava
Captains log stardate 5.10.2006

Today is the fifth day of my 4th year of being un-employed and homeless. The adventures of Rambling Robert World Traveler continue.After five days in Sanfu Gheorghe (Saint George) and two days in Iasi (Pronounced Yosh) I am now in Bucovina Romania on the outskirts of a small city Called Suceava (pronounced Soo-chava).

The Danube Delta was very interesting place and very nice. The Danube is the second longest river in Europe behind the Volga and the only major European river to flow from West to East. It takes its source in the Black Forest Mountains of Germany, and empties after 2850 km (1770 mi) in the Black Sea on the Romanian coast. The Delta is not like the Mississippi Delta where I lived in New Orleans for 3 years but It was beautiful in its own way. We arrived on a dark rainy night in Tulcea and left the next day on a river boat to Sanfu Gheorghe.

There are no roads to Sanfu Gheorghe you must come by boat.It takes 5 hours, and costs 20 lei (about 3 euros or 4 US dollars). The ride down the river
is beautiful. I have had the good fortune to have taken quite a few trips down quite a few rivers in the last 3 years, This was really nice. lovely scenery and greenery, lots of tents and small anchored boats with guys fishing for pike, carp and river sturgeon along the way. The boat was smooth and fast and it was sunny and warm except in the wind where it was sunny and cool. Drinking cheap Romanian beer and eating sunflower seeds on deck very nice ride. Lots of birds mostly cormorants and egrets and pelicans and swans and ducks and geese and herons and gulls.

In Sanfu Gheorghe we met Mikhaila on the dock where the boat stops. Let me backtrack a minute. In Tulcea we met Mikhailas daughter on the dock. She said her mother took boarders and called ahead. So her mom was waiting for a bald American guy and blond Austrian woman. She took us to her home in the village of S.G.

We had a nice bedroom with our own bathroom and shower. She served us 3 ENORMOUS meals each day and charged us 50 lei each (13 euro 18 US dollar)She threw in a bottel of her home-made vodka and a big pitcher of very fresh home-made red wine (last week vintage!) The vodka was good. I think it was more like a schnapps or a slivovitz or brandy made of grapes or plums or apples but she spoke no english, only Romanian and Russian, and she SAID VODKA and when we tried to ask about it she pounded her chest and cried "buena buena" and some other un-intelligable words and started laughing!! Well okaaayyy then...and so it was,so it was...

The village of S.G. has about 1000 people in it, mostly fisherman and their kin. There is one hotel, and no restaurant. Well one restaurant in the hotel...There are no paved roads and no cars, although everyone seems to have a boat. There are a couple of Magazins which are like little 7-eleven kind of shops, and uhhh thats it.

It is one kilometer west of the Black Sea. We came there to skinny dip and float our tootsies in the black sea and to do some bird watching, and maybe a rowboat tour of the marshes and wildlife and we did all these things.

Life in this sleepy little village is slow. The main entertainment seems to be fishing for fun and profit and drinking alcohol. Wild marijuana grows literally everywhere in and around the town...It looks like dope, smells like dope,rolls and burns like dope but it dont get you high. I havent gotten high since I left USA in July. One thing I miss about USA is the ready availability of good quality Marijuana. Oh and tootsie roll pops of course!

So 5 days in SG and we got back on the boat to Tulcea on 1 October the first day of my fourth year. The only disapointment there was we were a couple of weeks too soon for the red breasted Geese to migrate. I was really looking forward to them but alas it was not to be. But what good luck! no one charged us for tickets back and so we saved 40 lei on my 4 year anniversary it was a gift of course from the God of Travel.

Grueling travel day. 5 hours on the boat, then 2 hours on maxi taxi mini bus, then 30 minutes on another boat. Then taxi to the next bus, then 3 hours in very crowded bus. Then 1 hour walking around looking for a cheap hotel in Iasi. Began travel at 7 am and ended at 8:30pm. I love my life and wouldnt trade it for anything.

Iasi was nice city very friendly people nice architecture loud and hustling bustling lots of universitys yadda yadda yadda...Stayed for two nights and took a 3 hour train to Suceava.

Suceava is where you go if you want to visit the famous Painted monasteries of Bucovina. The monasteries (there are over 2000 monasteries in Romania) are mostly from the 1400s and early 1500s and are still in use for monks and nuns of the orthodox christian faith. The paintings are interesting to see. Many of the monasteries are color themed so Humor is all in Blue, Vatra Moldovitcea is yellow etc.

Many graphic depictions of Religisly inspired torture.I am really tired of this. Why dont they ever paint the fish and loaves thing? Its always the guy with the beard being crucified or flogged or stabbed with a spear. In Vatra Moldavitcea there must be paintings of at least 200 martyrs getting their heads cut off, blood spurting everywhere... The christians and muslims seem to put tremendous emphasis on martyrdom. This is the way to be a saint or get into heaven. Where are all the mother Teresa saints? So anyways...

I head back to Bucurest in a few days and then I will check out the sites of the big city of Romania. I fly to Egypt in one week. Soon enuf because the wheather is starting to turn and its getting a little chilly for this world traveler and adventurer. Time to switch hemi-spheres I reckon... Next update from the land of the Pharoas and Pyramids.
here are some parting quotes:

"Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbour, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest." HADITH 15- Abu Hurairah quoting Muhammad(uhbpb)Messengerof Allah

"In the dominant Western religious system, the love of God is essentially the same as the belief in God, in God's existence, God's justice, God's love. The love of God is essentially a thought experience. In the Eastern religions and in mysticism, the love of God is an intense feeling experience of oneness, inseparably linked with the expression of this love in every act of living."-
Erich Fromm

"Beware of any endeavor that necessitates the purchase of new clothes" Henry David Thoreau

Love and Peace,