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  • hardie karges 3:16 pm on April 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Djibouti, ,   

    Somaliland Stirred, Djibouti Shaken 

    Picture of Market in Djibouti that cost me dearly

    Picture of Market in Djibouti that cost me dearly

    May 2009

    (We get no peanuts, but we do get to Djibouti on time.)

    …my hopes are soon dashed…  If this is French colonial glory, then I’m Napoleon in rags… French legacy of high prices and pretentiousness only…  airport itself offers the first clue, single exchange office only opening after the guy can be found to service his single customer, me…  $30 three-day transit visa or $60 thirty-day visa, decisions decisions…

    Downtown not much better, squalid and dirty… much higher prices than neighboring countries.  Cabbies obnoxious, driving old green-and-white honkers that they like to back down the street in…  room has A/C and TV, though, and enough room to exercise if I want, something I’ve foregone for many days for lack of adequate food and water.  Refugees don’t work out.  My mental condition is deteriorating… got to plan my escape… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 4:39 pm on April 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      All I can say is “You are a survivor!”

  • hardie karges 7:52 pm on April 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hargeisa,   

    Somaliland Stirred not Shaken; Chewed not Spat 

    Street Market in Somaliland

    Street Market in Somaliland

    …get on a bus for a country that doesn’t really exist, except in someone’s imagination: existential ball-juggling 401… Somalia now effectively divided into three, Somaliland relatively peaceful and open for business, connected by land to the also relatively peaceful states of Djibouti and Ethiopia. Somaliland issues visas and currency and guards its borders just like everyone else.

    …catch the first bus out of Harar at daybreak, make my connection in Jijiga and continue on, certain to make Hargeisa within the day now… Travel in Ethiopia not hard so much as slow, crammed in like proverbial sardines… the vast Ogaden Desert, cousin to the Arabian and Sahara, spread out endlessly ahead, highland Ethiopia maybe the only real break in a desert stretching from Morocco to China.

    You decrease in elevation as you increase in heat, by some adiabatic ratio, and the Christian passion and delicate features of the typical Ethiopian face evolve into something a bit different, the harsher and darker Somali features and the more rigid and vocal Islamic demeanor. (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 11:15 pm on April 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Taking your life in your own hands, it seems. Scary. Doesn’t home sound good about now?

  • hardie karges 9:56 pm on April 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dire Dawa, , , , Rimbaud   

    Following Rimbaud In Harar, Ethiopia…. 

    Ethiopia has desert, too...

    Ethiopia has desert, too… 

    May 2009

    …Addis Ababa bus station at 5 a.m. ain’t pretty… bus already quite full when I arrive… suspect some of the riders have been there all night… looks pretty lived-in… taxi driver asks if he can help.  Does a bear sh*t in the woods?

    Fortunately I have great faith in people’s goodness, especially those of the Book.  People were touched by the Book long before they ever had one thrown at them.  Still nothing cleans and scours the soul like fear, removing psychological debris and detritus long caked on and ground in, leaving you whiter if no brighter.  (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 11:15 pm on April 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I am still speechless at your descriptive ability. My right eye is coming along and I am able to read a little more now – cataract surgery was a week ago tomorrow. We had had Easter and celebrated John and Greg’s birthdays; and Charla is vacationing with three girlfriends in Asheville, N. C. this week.

    • Esther Fabbricante 11:23 pm on April 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m reading a little better, but still blurry and having lots of little floaters. Another appointment a week from today for Dr. Ford to determine the next step.

      Esther

  • hardie karges 2:54 pm on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Addis Ababa, , , Oliver Mtukudzi   

    Fear & Loathing In Addis Ababa 

    008

    Scenes From an Ethiopian Wedding

    …flight to Ethiopia is on Turkish Air, so I change planes at Istanbul, finally getting in at midnight… friend’s there to meet me; first time for everything… night air is cool; that suits me fine.  I drink a beer and we shoot the sh*t for a while.  It’s midnight and I’m wired, jet-lagged as Hell.  Welcome to Ethiopia.

    …Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi is playing on Sunday; I’m in… first thing’s come first, though, so I go get my visa to Somaliland, even though it’s not really even a country…

    The “ambassador” calls me into his office.

    “Who told you to go to Somaliland?”

    “No one.  I decided to do it on my own.  I plan to go to every country in the world.”

    “Have you ever been in Ethiopia before?”

    “First time.”

    “Where else have you been in Africa?”

    “Mali and Senegal.  But I’ve been in eighty other countries also.”

    003

    Cultural Dinner in Addis Ababa

    He nods.  He didn’t have to know that Mali was an unmitigated disaster and Senegal only somewhat mitigated.  He knows that Africa is a continent unlike any other, where your very conception of what it is to be human will be put to the test, where you’ll see things you might rather forget… like humans eating off the ground in flocks like pigeons… collecting discarded mango skins to process one more time nutritionally.

    …seems as if a whole nation is hungry and willing to do just about anything to satisfy it.  When I suggest to two amputees, one male and one female, that they look cute together, they suggest that I should snap up the thirteen-year-old girl with her hand outstretched.

    …girl immediately comes over closer and strokes my…arm-hairs.  They ask where I’m from, wondering if I’m Chinese.  I guess it’s not obvious with my baseball cap and sunglasses on.  I respond that I’m American, lifting my glasses and showing my eyes.  That seems to quell any further interest.  Apparently the Chinese are getting all the press as the nouveau riche from heaven.  Apparently the new Mandarins are the old Mandarins; they just haven’t come to collect the rent yet.

    Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi

    Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi

    Ethiopian women are quite fetching… comparisons to Thailand occur to me…  word for “foreigner” is even almost the same, “faranji” instead of “farang”…  people equally subdued in character, with delicate lines and fine features, both men and women.  Stuff’s cheap, too.  A Plan “C” gradually emerges in my fantasies; if all else fails, then one could do worse than here.  It gets worse…

    Blogs are illegal apparently, and so is Skype… Addis no paradise either, though some modern conveniences and a bustling night-club scene… sprawling and chaotic and hard to walk around… probably “shambolic” too, as the quote goes, but I’m not sure what that word means.

    …go to a “cultural dinner” complete with song and dance… traditional Ethiopian dancing has to be seen to be believed… like pec exercises… while hopping around the floor, kicking and screaming and gesticulating wildly to music that is best described as a cross between Mungo Jerry and Khmer-style gantreum

    038

    A Decent Restaurant in Addis Ababa

    …coffee is excellent, apparently an Italian legacy… cheap too, except in the foreigner haunts… it originates here, but the Italians took it to a high art… antique espresso machines prove it… old fashion machines with four-barrel carburetors… words “macchiato” and “cappuccino” are in the local vocabulary.  Ethiopians drink it with popcorn traditionally, and incense too, a more distant legacy I guess.

    …don’t like to have to watch my back every day in the city, so I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the countryside.  Cities should be reserved for great art and beauty and culture, not shanty-towns.  Poverty still has dignity in the countryside.  Leave it there.  ‘Tuku’s show is great, but I’m getting antsy…

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 3:30 pm on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Very informative indeed. You can fit in “anywhere” – and it is unbelievable.

  • hardie karges 2:22 am on March 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Great Wall, Tiananmen   

    BEIJING RUNAROUND: BUSES & PLANES & SUBWAYS 

    035

    Tourist district of Beijing

    …flight leaves Bangkok at 1:20 in the morning, already doomed as far as I’m concerned… seat back doesn’t seem to want to recline backward… arrive in Shanghai at six in the a.m. with seven hours until my onward connection, but I have to change airports—not terminals—to do it.   Fun fun fun… exchange houses in China will fleece you right there at the airport, charging you fifty yuan to change your money, so I ask him for it back. I thought he said fifteen.

    I get to the other airport with plenty of time to spare, quick tour of Shanghai in the process, nothing to do now but free-base caffeine… my only goal is to find my Beijing hotel before dark using the subway system in a city I’ve never visited using a language I don’t really know written in characters that mean little or nothing, though the character for pot-stickers looks surprisingly accurate… too bad I don’t eat meat…

    018

    The other Tiananmen Square

    Shanghai’s is the airport of the future, symbolic of their field-of-dreams mentality, their edifice complex, the notion that the world is there (and theirs) to be developed, a mall in every village, an airport for every town. I’m not sure I like that vision; I’m pretty sure I don’t in fact. Nature may not always be right, but probably more often than humans. I don’t think I’ll ever lose my love of fields and streams, mountains and valley daydreams.

    …weather is bad, so the flight is an hour late leaving Shanghai, still I find my hotel before dark by the grace of God. Allahu akhbar. There’s a reason I book hotels close to subway stations… it’s a peach, $30 net with a couple bucks extra for the best breakfast I’ve had since Istanbul; hard-boiled eggs, salad fixin’s, and forty-two different kinds of tofu, a vegetarian’s dream in cheap hotel heaven… hotel doesn’t have Wi-Fi, but I guess a hard-wire connection will do. Steve Jobs wouldn’t like that, though, would he?

    Great Wall at Badaling

    Great Wall at Badaling

    …first day I walk so much that my feet are mush. Tiananmen Square and Sanlitun Village—the foreign quarter—will have to suffice. I’ll save the Forbidden City for another day. I can do that any half day. The Great Wall will take a little more planning… mostly waiting actually, for the bus. I blow off the tour companies and opt for the public bus, but that means the long lines familiar to Communism.

    Wall’s impressive, too, as much or more as any picture could attempt to do it justice. I even thought about walking it, but… naah. On the way back, though, I jump the bus line when I hear the guy yelling, “Spaces for two!” At least I think that’s what he said. Most Chinese travel in packs. They yell a lot, too. You’ve probably heard that they’re not really yelling, that’s just the tonality of the language. That’s pure BS; they’re yelling.

    …a little bit of old China—but not much—lives on in the back alleys of Beijing. Here you can find the best street food and the most interesting little shops.   They’re rapidly becoming upscale and fashionable, too, since the faster they disappear the more valuable the few remaining ones become. It reminds me most of maybe the old quarter in Hanoi, with which it must share a common ancestor, if Hanoi is not a direct copy itself. Fortunately that district is not far from where I’m staying, so it’s the best of both worlds for me. I like it. I’ll be back.

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 6:37 am on March 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Of interest to know that you are a vegetarian. Wondering how you get your protein? And you are such a pro at taking in all the sights and describing them to us ‘laymen.’ Very impressive, indeed. Keep healthy.

      • hardie karges 3:20 pm on March 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Was a better vegetarian then than now, though still prefer it. Never gave up dairy and eggs, though, major sources of protein, as well as soy products. Brown rice is my staple food, much more protein than the white versions. I haven’t heard of rice gluten causing problems, though not sure…

  • hardie karges 2:55 pm on March 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    #Kabul #Afghanistan: Jihad for Dummies, Spring Hopes Eternal 

    hardie karges:

    Happy Persian New Year 1394! I celebrated it last year in first-cousin fortress Kabul, behind enemy lines, me and Brian Williams, the biggest celebrations at the Serena Hotel, where foreign journalists and dignitaries felt safe until Talib and the Taliban bluffed their way past Checkpoint Charlie, killing several before it was all over while I slept soundly (gulp) in another neighborhood… What a difference a year can make!

    Originally posted on Hypertravel 2: the Electronic Dance Re-Mix:

    God & State in Kabul, Afghanistan God & State in Kabul, Afghanistan

    The queue for Safi Air flight #248 from Delhi to Kabul looks like something of a loya jirga in itself, businessmen and diplomats, village traders of lapis lazuli, scammers and schemers, all going back to the homeland for one reason or another, all with excess baggage—fridges toasters and microwaves, dreams hopes and expectations—all wearing long tunics baggy trousers and funny hats, all speaking strange tongues and whispering strange sighs, body odors wafting from overcoats whose histories likely date back to eras unspecified and improperly documented.

    Any one of these guys could be a Taliban terrorist, al-Qaeda conniver or Saudi Salafist, down on his luck up on his religion out of his rightful mind and into the only one that’s left, high-tailing it or in-boxing it or tweeting it or snap-chatting architectural blueprints for any one of 1000’s of memorials and buildings and airports freely…

    View original 588 more words

     
  • hardie karges 3:49 pm on March 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Mongolia, Tsetserleg, Ulan Bataar,   

    Freaking Mongolia, Man…. 

    006

    Tibetan Buddhism in Ulan Bataar, Mongolia…

    August 2012

    …plane landing at Chinggis Khan International Airport in Ulaan Bator; I look down at the dirt tracks swirling through the pastures surrounding the runway… beginner’s guide to chaos theory, the likely paths and the strange attractions, converging and re-converging according to some logic or design… map to the Mongolian persona if not history… they conquered half the known world of the time, even getting out of China’s grip in the end… with help from neighboring big brother Russia, who took a piece herself in the process; I believe the teeth-marks are still visible on the map… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 4:46 pm on March 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I love your closing line – you made my morning more than mundane – but glorious.

  • hardie karges 3:36 pm on March 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Holidays, Holi Days, Sad Farewells: #Rishikesh #Delhi #India 

    hardie karges:

    Exactly one year ago today: celebrating the most over-hyped Holi Day I’ve ever been witness to. I think I saw a total of 8 kids actually celebrating it.

    Originally posted on Hypertravel 2: the Electronic Dance Re-Mix:

    Holi Days in Delhi Holi Days in Delhi

    India is a mother, a matrix, mysterious and meandering, wise beyond her kitchen, beautiful despite her years, charming the pants off conquerors and traders and holy men and saints, opening doors only to close them behind you, stooping to fawn and pander with multiple options for ongoing investment, financial packaging and advantageous positions in the futures market…

    India is a monster, cruel and conniving, filthy and chaotic, devious and diabolic, two-faced and teeming with too many people, a misplaced anger and aggression mutated into a caste system for the classists and classes, a hierarchy for racists, upward mobility for the wealthy, and a religion guaranteed to keep it that way, laws for the lawless, feuds for the feudal, but no food for the hungry…

    The truth lies somewhere in between, of course, India defined by the resolution of her opposites, her non-attachment to outcomes, her negligence…

    View original 593 more words

     
  • hardie karges 3:15 pm on March 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Indian Deliverance: #Mathura #Uttar Pradesh #India 

    hardie karges:

    One year ago today…

    Originally posted on Hypertravel 2: the Electronic Dance Re-Mix:

    Getting redy for holi celebrations inMathura, India Getting redy for holi celebrations inMathura, India

    Delhi suburbs are z-z-z-l-e-e-p-y, (y-a-w-n-n-n), and you could almost convince yourself that life inside the cocoon could always be like this, z-z-zlow and laz-z-z-y, but all good things must come to an end, soooo… spike my veins with pure caffeine, catch the early morning bus to Uttar Pradesh, Mathura to be exact, got a rep as a hot place to party for Holi festival of lights, festival of colored powders, festival of partiers without borders, guard your private parts if you want to keep them that way….

    Bus takes on passengers from an undefined spot in an undefined lot, on the outskirts of town, ready to go whenever from wherever, transvestite comes on the bus posing as the ticket collector woulda had me fooled if he/she weren’t such the fool herself, with her fanny pack as decoy and her silly grin as the…

    View original 912 more words

     
  • hardie karges 5:35 pm on March 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: currency, dollar, Euro,   

    Strong US Dollar Makes Overseas Travel Cheap 

    Make whatever political hay of it you will, but the fact is that the US Dollar is the strongest that I can ever remember since prehistoric times: $1 USD = .95EUR, .68GBP, 121JPY, 1.28CAD, 1.31AUD, 15.48MXN, so pretty incredible, and a good time to travel in Europe and elsewhere! Get those passports now and avoid the summer rush!

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 6:29 pm on March 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Sorry – my travels are very limited these days.

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