Updates from December, 2014 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 2:21 pm on December 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Burj Khalifa, Doha, , ,   

    Qatar’s Emerald City and Dubai’s Stairway to Heaven 

    New Doha

    New Doha

    December 2009

    …anxious to catch my early morning flight on Air Arabia from Yemen to Dubai; even pay a couple guys baksheesh to move my bags through the security scan ahead of others…

    …now I understand.  We’re leaving ten minutes early!  Now there’s a switch.  The serving crew doesn’t even speak Arabic… freelancers from Russia and the Far East.  I’m heading into a different part of Arabia, where locals comprise barely twenty-five percent of the population of their own countries and English is as much the lingua franca as Arabic.

    …good time to be in the Gulf, though, what with the world economy in a slump… hotels seventy-eighty bucks mere weeks ago, now forty-fifty…  You gotta’ be flexible.  (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 2:37 pm on December 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for dating the post – all very interesting indeed. Happy New Year!

  • hardie karges 3:13 pm on December 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Sanaa, Yemen   

    Yemen: There are some things you can’t cover up with burkhas and chadors… 

    Yemen: Arabian Nights

    Yemen: Arabian Nights

    …circle the airport more than once coming down into Sana’a, but I don’t know why, since there’s no traffic at all… weather is beautiful; so is the scenery… cross between the Bolivian altiplano and the Grand Canyon.  Immigration formalities… no problem… but sixty buck visa not cheap…

    Arabian Nights are alive and well in Sana’a… apparently God said, “Yep, pretty much like I remember it…” fairy-tale architecture…like icing on the cake, an Arab-style cake… swoops and swirls and extra sugar on the side.  Sana’a is to architecture what halwa is to sweets.  (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:38 pm on December 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Reading this at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 27, 2015 – a good way to start the day. I enjoy reading on Facebook where I can enlarge the print and see the pictures. Happy New Year!

  • hardie karges 1:41 pm on December 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Luxor, Thebes   

    Luxor, Egypt: Down South Up River 

    Ruins at Luxor, Egypt

    Ruins at Luxor, Egypt

    Cairo has largely missed the boat to modernity that its sister oil-rich states are riding into the sunset… faded glory, historical standard bearer for Arab and Muslim worlds… glorious past, but future very sketchy… so I kill time peacefully until time to board train, disgustingly filthy and hardly worth the cost… but I persevere, next stop Luxor.

    …hustle hassle starts before the train even gets into the station… nice Australian lady touting for her hotel on the train, claiming discrimination on the home front, (not Australia), claims locals diss her as a whore… she’s dissing them, of course… when train gets in, touts right at the door, following hot on my heels… hard to be polite in situations like these. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:24 pm on December 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      You never cease to amaze me with your descriptive power.

      • hardie karges 3:38 pm on December 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thx, I think a visual style is what makes the re-mix interesting, like reverse applique’ textiles, cutting through layers and only leaving certain patterns…

  • hardie karges 6:36 pm on December 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dahab, , , Jordan, , Petra   

    Crossing Jordan: the Bitter Tears Of Petra 


    Ruins at Petra, Jordan

    December 2009

    …try to travel again next day… loose stools… don’t worry much if nothing in there… haven’t eaten much this week… wonder what I weigh now?  …get a taxi far out to the edge of Damascus… just to catch another taxi, “service taxi,” long-distance collective ones, to neighboring countries… easier waiting for a taxi to fill than a bus or even a van, as in Africa.

    At least drivers here not absolute maniacs as in Egypt… nice to see some old-fashioned excitement at the presence of a foreigner… Arabs can be loud and belligerent, but also very sweet and helpful… but I’m a man.  It could be very different if you’re a woman, especially if you’re traveling alone… after an hour or so, taxis start filling up and we’re on our way to Jordan.  (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 7:41 pm on December 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Very entertaining, to be sure – but how do you do it!!!

    • hardie karges 10:36 pm on December 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      This is fun, and easy too, 100% editing, since I wrote it five years ago in wordier style. Compare to your hard copy and that’s what I was working with last night… hence: ‘re-mix’…. interesting lesson in editing…

  • hardie karges 8:38 pm on December 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Beirut, , Lebanon, ,   

    Beirut Runaround & Road To Damascus: Will That Be Visa? 

    Sunrise over Damascus

    Sunrise over Damascus

    November 2009

    …catch flight from Cairo to Beirut, not cheap at $240 OW, but if I can get the visa to Syria for pocket change, then that’ll save me $100 or so… made hotel reservation for Beirut without clear directions to where it was… turns out Jal el Dib is way north of town on the road to Tripoli…great.  After blowing off the hacks, I get some info from the tourist office on how to get there by bus… complicated, but better than a fifty dollar taxi ride…

    Third time’s a charm.  After two botched attempts and a long ride up the Christian casino coast—Slavic go-go dancers and whores I hear—I finally get off at the right place… $7 total from the airport, and the last $4 was optional if I’d wanted to walk the hill… real hotel, too, full-fledge, though the room is a “standard” one in the “annex,” sounds ominous… (More …)

  • hardie karges 3:11 pm on December 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , pyramids, Sphinx   

    Chaos In Cairo: A Comedy Of Errors & Assorted Pyramid Schemes         

    Egypt in happier times

    Egypt in happier times

    November 2009

    …four days of bad coffee … Wheat-a-Bix… no Wi-Fi,… good to be moving on from London.  The verdict is still out on Cairo, but at least a room will be cheaper…

    The Blue Bird (Hotel) has no Wi-Fi, of course.  But they DO have a twenty-five-foot hard line… I start making onward plans… need to get to both Sudan and Eritrea…

    … Eritrean embassy says that they can’t give me a visa, since I’m not an Egyptian resident… guess I’m Caught-22, but I’ll inquire again in Yemen…

    … Cairo at midnight is something to behold, something like Halogen heaven.  If you shine bright enough lights on anything, I guess it’ll look good … not unlike Mexico City or one of the older sections of Bangkok… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 3:52 pm on December 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I can hardly comprehend all your travels from place to place – and how you have such expertise!!

  • hardie karges 4:36 pm on December 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Austin, Hoiuston, La Grange, Schulenberg,   

    Texas: Auto-retrato in rear-view mirrors, Auto-da-fe in Houston 

    Karges self-portrait 2014

    Karges self-portrait 2014

    Houston has always pretty much encapsulated for me everything that’s wrong with America, sprawls and malls and oversized redneck balls, up yours and in yo’ face, politeness and good manners preventing me from using the four-letter words that most easily come to mind. And southern Texas is basically an hijo de puta in general, somehow defining the term, iridescent oil slicks in shallow tide pools, earthly vents flaring gas, cops looking for someone to do and beastly bovines baring ass.

    It all started in Schulenberg for me, back in 1977, halfway between San Antonio and Houston, somewhere on the outskirts of the outback and nowhere near the infield of her in-skirts, home plate looming large like a bulls-eye home run, where I’d prefer to be, in her arms if not her legs, lapping at liquids and overlapping symbols, mixing metaphors and martinis, gasping for air if not grasping at truths, preferably screaming for more, and not bloody murder…

    Eternal Flame: Texas Oil Fields

    Eternal Flame: Texas Oil Fields

    But no one is there to help me when the nice policeman drops me off on the edge of town, down on my luck and down to my last buck, with instructions to think hard and pray even harder, gotta’ have a ton of faith when the only ride I got hitch-hiking in the last six hours was a ride in a police car after handing over $21 of my last $24 for unspecified crimes and misdemeanors; oh, right! I was littering, I remember now, as if it were yesterday…

    I got dropped there on the exit ramp and waited for hours, back in the days when backpacks were rucksacks and backpackers wore them religiously, with sometimes even a tent and sleeping bag attached for good measure, and budget accommodations, but it’s hard to walk around when you walk into town, even harder to pick up the Coke can once you stand up and gear up after sitting down and taking a look around and checking out the bus schedule to see how far $24 will take you…

    But I walked away rather than gear down just to bend down to pick up that now-empty cursed can of formerly fizzy liquids, now rendered inert inside me and seeking a path to the sea at the closest sign of a little boys’ room. WHEE-OO!! The sirens sound out on cue and I’m apprehended like the common litterer that I really am, and hauled before the local JP and ordered to pay a $21 fine and lectured on the dangers of Mexico to boot, nothing about the dangers of America or the abuses of Arizona or the crimes of Paris, Texas, due to hit the big screen in only a few years’ time…

    Downtown Houston

    Downtown Houston

    But at least I had three dollars left and was by then on the other side of town, with things looking up, and no margin for error, only five hundred miles to home and enough money for a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter, so I should be good, and I was, made it back with pennies to spare and a pair of clean underwear, older but wiser, emboldened and unrepentant…

    Well I’m nothing if not one to press my luck, so I came back the next year 1978 crossing the border at Matamoros and Brownsville instead of Laredo, that’ll show ’em, with the big idea to take then-newbie Southwest Airlines’ cheapie flight from Harlingen to Houston, for exactly that same $24 that was so hard to part with the year before; only one problem: what to do when I got there, airports not exactly configured for hitch-hiking, still I persevered walking around cloverleafs and loop-the-loops, somehow emerging from it all and pointing in the right direction: Mississippi or bust! Got a ride from there to my driveway, all in one piece, and ready to…

    Die. Ready to die. Coming down with hepatitis and ready to die. Musta’ been the icy waters down in Tampico, the kind you drink, not swim in, and all too often made with non-sanitary ice and whatever fruit happens to be in season, hard to resist when the temps are climbing high, and it’s a long bus ride to the border. It was nasty, seeing yellow crapping chalky and pissing Pepsi, but somehow I survived, supposedly inoculated for life…

    Houston on the horizon

    Houston on the horizon

    Fast forward to 1989 and I’m boarding the plane for Panama from Houston. There’s a table set up on the jet ramp, and manned by Customs officers, but I’ve never seen such, and pay it no mind. They call me over, time for inspection—okay, whatever. I’ve got nothing to hide. They give my baggage the once-over, then go for my wallet, counting my money and going for broke. The limit’s $10K to declare, which I know well, $9129 in pocket and ready to do my biz in crafts down south. That should be the end of it, but it’s not.

    “I want to know what that bulge in your pants is,” he says, and no, I don’t make this sh*t up.

    So off we go, down the ramp, and into the cockpit, no pun intended, where I proceed to pull down my pants to satisfy the man’s interests, no comment, without getting his hands dirty, should last him the rest of the day and most of the night, if I figure rightly, calculating the algebra of desire against the urge to merge, and the demands for privacy when plumbing one’s privies; it ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done…

    Now here I am in 2014, older but no wiser, wending my way through oil fields and suburbs, on my pilgrimage through the modern-day monster, Houston, also older no wiser, thinly veiled behind fly-overs and underpasses, the Houston tollway, Crockett tollway, LBJ tollway, Rayburn tollway, Ann Richards tollway, George W. Bush tollway, George H.W. Bush tollway, Jeb Bush tollway; you get the idea: eight lanes in each direction and nobody’s going anywhere, EZ pass required but no guarantees, mix-master freeways, concrete-and-steel fruit loops, the epitaph already writ large, just like the Romans: ‘they made good roads’.

    Texas Quilt Museum

    Texas Quilt Museum

    Welcome to Houston. ‘Nigger, don’t let the sun set on you here, and that goes for you, too, long-haired white boy.’ No sir, I won’t; you can bet on that, connect straight to Austin, via La Grange, small town America with no apologies repentances or refunds, ZZ Top and the circus big top, peaches and cream and everything in between, all in prelude to Austin, Emerald City, an island of civility in an ocean of oil-field rednecks, university and all, country swing and that wild silly thing they sing; almost feels like home. I’m good.

    • Esther Fabbricante 7:26 pm on December 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      And my nephew, R. A. “Bob” Mitchell, Jr., lives in Houston. I’ve never been to the place which you describe so well.

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