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, December 31, 2006

Aurangabad India

Hello from Aurangabad India.

Happy New Year it is the year of 007 my favorite secret agent Bong...James Bong
I have been in India for about 9 days now. I have stayed here in this peaceful spacious city North of Mumbai the whole time except for the first day, when I hung around Mumbai after missing a 6:10 train by 15 minutes i had to wait 11 hours for the next train.
My flight from Amman Jordan took off one hour late so I cant blame the taxi driver who took me from the airport to the train station. He is the son of Mario Andretti a real race car driver. One of the most frightening taxi experiences in a lifetime of frightening taxi experiences. Occasionally while narrowly missing a horrendous crash he would turn around to the back seat and grin at me for 15 seconds or so thus leading us into the next hair raising moment. I wanted to tell him to chill out but the combination of wanting to make my train and not wanting to seem like a woossy was too over whelming so I just grinned back at him and shouted "faster!, faster!" in my best Hunter S Thompson immitiaton...

"My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income"-Errol
While it is true that I love that quote...this doesnt seem like this particular problem will be much trouble over here. India is the cheapest country I have travelled in so far. I am staying for the last nights in a dorm in a YHA Hostel that has cost me 480 rupees (about US$11.00) Yo thats for 7 NIGHTS!!
As for food costs well it is as cheap as the room rate. I bought a littel samosa (triangular fried pastry with indian potato salad in the middle) and a littel "tempura" fried aubergine sandwich on my walk over here for 7 rupees, at 45 rupees to the dollar that is an unbelievably cheap breakfast! As for food quality well it is unbelievable!! Forget everything you THINK you know about Indian food if you havent been here, you just dont know... This country is like one big giant buffet. It is dream land for vegetarians. Wverything is vegetarian and most things are Vegan. It is very spicy, so if that is no good for you, you will have a problem here. Most of the time I dont have a clue what I am eating. I point to things and hold up however many fingers is appropriate for how much I want.
Near Aurangabad there are two world heritage site caves called Ellora and Ajunta that have been carved out of volcanic rock thousands of years ago. They were carved to make temples and monasteries for buddhist monks when buddhism was the main religion here. Later more caves were added for the Hindus and the Jains both sites are good but I liked Ajunta more. There are 2,200 year old paintings there that are still somewhat in tact due to the fact that the caves sheltered the paintings from wind air and water erosion. Very beautiful
Most of my time I have just been chilling out and walking around town and trying to get adjusted to the sights sounds and smells of India. Made friends with an American ex-pat named Tom and we3 have been palling around together. He lives in Mazatlan Mexico now but he has been in India for 5 months of a planned 9 nomonth trip. Cool guy. We went out boozing it up for New Years Eve with a couple of Japanese girls. Good Fun.
Today 1/1/007 I have a bus at 5pm to go to Ahmedabad in Gujaret state that will arrive there at 7 am on 2/1/007. It sounds like a good city with lots of interesting museums and a famous night market. This is where Mohatmas Gandis old ashram is and is now a big tourist attraction.
Next update in a 10 days or 2 weeks...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Travel update from Israel

This travel update is a littel more scrambeled than usual because I have been writing a bunch of notes and now I dont know how to put it all together so Enjoy this free form letter style.
The last 5 or six days I have been hanging out with my Israeli travelling mates Udi and Degenet who are buddies of mine from Nicaragua trafvel days, so almost exactly a year ago. They live in Tel Aviv and are expecting thair first baby soon. We went out to a good outdoor restaurant in T.A. and then hung out in their apartment until very late and drank most of a bottel of Black and White scotch, an error which I paid the price for, that following morning. We later rallied and cruised up North in the family car to an overnighter back to Haifa and where I went to Israels best Felafel stand.
Then next day around the caves on the Lebanese border and ate at a great hommos restaurant where the Hommos is served warm. I dont belileve I have ever enjoyed this delicacy warm before but I liked it very much. Mine was served with ful on top and some interesting pickeled veggies on the side and of course nice warm mid-eastern pocket bread.
Alas in due course I took the bus down to Be'er Sheva and then another bus to Sde Boker which is where I am now. Hanging out with my romanian travelling buddy Itae, whom I met in Transylvania last summer. We shared rooms in Brasov, Sibiu and then met up on the street in Sighisoara.
Itae is doing research to use spiders as natural predators against evil pests on agricultural farms to make organic produce available to the masses. I think this is a great idea. He goes out to these beautiful spots in the Negev Dessert near fields of wheat or potatoes and collects samples of insects to do statistical analysis. So of course... I go with... Great bird watching, bug spotting, saw fox, ibix which are beautiful goat like creatures with unbelievable antlers and caught and released a turtle (tortoise?). seeing lots of nice dessert flowers too.
Went to a littel pub with Itae and friends the other night and heard a guy doing all old sixties folk songs. I drank way too much of the local schnaps which is an anis liquor called Raki. 3 sheckels a glass (seventy five US cents). I was foolish.
I have been partying too much in Israel. I need to reform a littel. So Happy Chanuka to everyone Next update from India

Greetings from Tel Aviv
I am in Tel Aviv a thriving Metropolis on Israels Mediteranean Coast. The Sea is beautiful, turquoise waters and gently breaking waves against a thouroughly Mondern Miami like(but less developed)shoreline I am writing this on my second day here in Tel Aviv. So far I am enjoying the city. Israel is a littel expensive. Well,Jerusalem was very cheap for me because I stayed in East jerusalem. Everything is twice as expensive in the Jewish parts of the country.
I arrived here on Sunday by train from Haifa, which is another Jewish city in the North not too far from the Lebanon border also on the coast of the Mediterannean Sea. Here the water and beach is also lovely but this time of year too cold to lay about on the beach or go for a swim. I came to Haifa mainly to visit the Shrine of the Ba'b, and the Bahai Gardens.
I have visited botanical gardens all over the world and I always enjoy to see them. I feel restful and tranquil in these ploaces and so I seek them out. I think I will not go to anymore. No No No but...The Bahai Gardens are so magnificent so spectacular so beautiful that there seems no point in going to anymore gardens. If you are a gardener or a lover of horticulture. This is your place. 19 amazingly landscaped and manicured terraces of beautifully tended gardens lovingly tended by 700 Bahai volunteers!!
The actual tomb of the B'ab, is of great importance to the worlds adherents of the Ba'Hai faith. Here the two great prophets of this remarkable religion are intered.
Of the religions based on the God of Abraham, I think the only one that I find to be viable is Ba'Hai. It is the only one that makes sense to me. If I thought that Abraham was right and there is only one god (Allah to the muslims and the holy father and spirit to the christians Jehova to the Jews)IF I believed this I would become a Bahai.

"Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst." C.S.Lewis

The Bahai , with their strict view that men and women are 100%equal, That clergy corrupt the faithful so they have no clergy, that Science and religion must agree or they are wrong one or the other. Well this makes sense to me.

So I have come to the "holy" land after over 2 years as a spiritual traveler and visited the dome of the rock, the temple mount, the tomb of Jesus, the Wailing wall. I am done with my journey of discovery concerning the god of Abraham. I will say no more on the subject after this update.

The train ride from Haifa to Tel Aviv was of some interest. About 80% of the passengers were young Israeli Soldiers armed with their assault rifels and granade launching tubes. Using a civilian train to transport your army? Hiding your soldiers among your civilians? hmmmm

I have been exploring the old city and checking out the various religious sites and holy places.
I went to the remains of the Jewish Temple (the wailing wall) that Solomon, son of David built and that Herrod re-built. It was destroyed shortly after it was built both times. This is the temple where Jesus kicked out the money changers.
It is built on the holy mount (like a small hill) where Abraham was sent by god to sacrifice his son (Isaac according to the Jews and Christians or Ishmael according to the Muslims).
This is the place where David placed the arc of the covenent (remember the movie "Raiders of the lost Arc"?)The cabinet containing the 10 commandments.
This is the spot where the Prophet Muhammed (p.b.u.h.)ascended into heaven where now stands the Dome of the rock.
This is where god began his creation of the earth. This is where god gathered dust and water to make clay and breathed life into this clay to create Adam; the first human being. So, to about 2.5 BILLION people this is a very very holy place.
I walked the "Via Dolorosa" (The path of pain) which begins where Jesus was tried, convicted, and scourged and forced to wear his crown of thorns, Where according to the Gospels he was given his cross and forced to walk through the streets of Jerusalem with it. I went into a littel shrine where Simon helped him carry his cross and followed the Via Dolorosa all the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
This is a holy place for Christians as they believe that this was the place where Jesus was crucified and buried before he came back to life. Inside the church I found the tomb of Jesus and the stone upon which they put his body when they cleaned him. This is the holiest place in the world for about 1.5 BILLION Christians. There were two nuns on their knees just crying histerically and kissing the tomb of their savior. A very moving moment...
Out of the lions gate and down a littel hill I come to the mount of Olives. A place of legends of the past and prophecies of the future.It is believed that the path that goes between the Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount is where Jesus made the triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding the donkey that had never before been mounted. This is the Palm Sunday tradition. At the top of the mount, Jesus ascended into Heaven after completing the ministry on Earth. Prophecy of the future also holds this place to be of extreme significance. Here, the new testament of the Bible states that Christ's physical return, the Second Coming will take place. If you are a Christian, there is a lot to think about standing here.
There is a littel olive grove next to the beautiful church of all nations it is called Gethsemane (which means "Olive Press", as in for making olive oil) gardens. It is in this grove 20 centuries ago that Jesus spent his night of passion sweating Blood (according to the gospel of Luke) and chatting with an angel while deciding to allow events to unfold or split the scene and run away. He decides to stay while the disciples slept and the romans come and arrest him and so it went, and so it goes...
I am staying in the Palm Hostel right near the Damascus Gate. The Damascus gate is the largest and most elaborate of the 7 gates to enter the old city walls of Jerusalem. It is a funky hostel run by a bunch of friendly helpful Palestinian Arabs. It is a great bargain at 25 NIS (US$5.85) per night.I got a dorm bed and it includes free internet, free coffee and tea all day, and free Dinner each night.
Security here in Jerusalem is very tight. There are armed Israeli Jews EVERYWHERE with M16's and other weapons of mass destruction. I was walking in West Jerusalem, also called the New city or the Jewish quarter. There is a great outdoor market there with all kinds of wonderful middel east foods and veggies and Jewish Delis and Bakeries. I was on my way to the big Egged Bus station to get info on the bus to Haifa, my next destination. In Jerusalem the busses only stop at designated bus stops. There are littel benches and awnings so you wont have to sit in the sun or rain. At one of these stops someone left a littel book-bag type of back-pack.
The police/soldiers closed the street and called the bomb squad. They came and blew up the back pack which turned out to be a false alarm (thankfully). This is aparently how everyday life is here in the occupied zones of Israel. There is a peace or cease fire in effect now for the third day. It began the day I arrived. The people I speak to Jews and Palestinians alike, see very littel chance of it lasting. So Sad...

"So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence." Bertrand Russell

Peace to everyone who reads this,
Rambling Robert