Location: Tana, Madagascar
As my friend in South Africa said when I commented about the spotty Internet and frequent power outages was, "welcome to Africa." So here I am in the tailend of my stay in Madagascar, and tomorrow I will be in South Africa breaking another girl's heart by leaving. A process that I've repeated first in Tanzania and now in Madagascar. They ask me when I'll return, and I'm like I have no f--king clue. To be honest there's a lot more other places I'd rather see now that I've seen their country. Oh well. Anyways I'll be home in about 2 weeks where I have a ton of work to do. Pictures to post, entries to write, friends to drink with, roadtrips to take, and a job to find. See you then.
Location: Karatu, Tanzania
Well here I am at a gas station waiting for our flat tires to e fixed. We're almost done with the our safari, and I am sooooooooo ready to lay on a beach on Zanzibar. My skills in Swahili have increased enough for people to stop and stare for a second. Also I'm tired of boxed lunches, and sore asses from driving around in a jeep all day staring at crazy animals. Good times. Hopefully I'll get everything updated when I'm on Zanzibar before I stop updating in Madagascar. Also no pictures probably until May, so sorry the internets are too slow here.
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Gaaaaah spending all day in the Cairo airport sucks, but it at least has some wifi. Anyways when I got dropped off at 7am for David to catch his flight, I managed to get some seats to lay down on and sleep fora few hours. Thm I had to wander to the arrivals just to use the damn bathroom. When I was dreaming I forgot I was surrounded by Egpytians, and then I awoke and was so sad. Basically me and David have yet to find a Egyptian that we like more than tolerating, and the ones we do tolerate are crazy and usually only want a little bit of our money. This place is seriously like one step below India as far as irritating and the number of people I want to stab. Another note is that all the western girls that we've met here that live here are all girls who'd get very little attention from men back home but lavish in it here since all the men who work at hostels seem to do it to try to pick up foreign girls since if they were to sleep with an Egyptian girl they'd have to marry her. I have checked Egypt off my list and will not be back.
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Today we're finally going to see the pyramids up close. Our hired driver picks us up late and drives us through hasslers and offers to take us bullshit stops like papyrus factories. Usual Egyptian bullshit. He conviently drops us off at his friends stables and seemed offended when I didn't want a f--king horseride on their poorly taken care of animals. We fought through hordes of people for tickets and entrance, and had my childhood interests in the pyramids destroyed before my eyes. They had a giant soundstage up and were rudely testing the mics, people were everywhere (the police were too lazy to tell people not to do things), and there was trash everywhere. We started by saying no thank you in Arabic, but one guy gave me a lecture about saying that and waving my hand, then I said Halass (over/finished), and he kept lecturing, and then I told him EM SHeeSH (which is a incredibly rude way to say go f--k off), then he was shocked and went off about how rude I was, and I said I started with no thankyou and it offended you, what do you want. Well we quickly learned to not talk to anyone, and we were tempted by the guy who just said "I don't want to sell you anything, I just love your money." Anyways we ended up going to the 2nd pyramid to go into since it was cheaper and no line for the same claustrophobic tunnels. The ticket guy saw my camera and told me to leave it behind, but there was no one there. I tried sneaking it through, but then he told me to put it in my car. I told him I had no car and chucked it at him for being a dick and walked in behind a guy who had a videocamera the size of an arm. David did not enjoy the suffocating sweatbox experience much and we hurried out, and wandered some more realizing that if the Egyptians didn't ruin it then the tourists would. We ended back at the hostel and after some boring times we got some salum, fruit shakes, and chatted with people at the hostel until bed.
Location: Luxor, Egypt
Well its been awhile since I haven't had easy access to ze internet, and it doesn't keep David entertained for more than a few minutes so its not easy to break away for awhile. Anyways I'm in Luxor, been to Alexandria, and seen everything I needed to in Jordan and Israel. This month has hit my cash flow pretty hard since we got stuck in pricey Israel, did a 6 hour camel trek in Wadi Rum in Jordan, and flew in a hot air balloon over Luxor, the Nile, and the Valley of the Kings. Most of our leisure time is spent smoking sheesha (hookah) and drinking turkish coffee, with the occasional domino game with the local boys. I'm exhausted with too much travel and not enough sleep, and there's so much left to see in Egypt, but yet not really. I'm ready to move on from the Islamic world and get to something new, since outside of dialects and slight variety in the way the food is cooked there hasn't been any changes in the last month. At least I'm staying at the Bob Marley Hostel, owned by a man named Ziggy, a good guy who always likes offering us a spliff.
Location: Mazada, Israel
We got up at 5 and bought our tickets from a douchebag guard. The full moon lit most of our way up the trail until dawn took over. We made up 3/4ths of the way and stopped to watching the sun rise over the mountains in Jordan and reflect onto the Dead Sea. It was pretty cool, I played some Dark Side of the Moon through my Lego iPod speaker and ate a pear. We finished the rest of the hike and explored Mazada, the citidal that Peter Jackson pretty much styled Minas Tirith after. It was cool, and we hiked down to split a 20 sheckles hand squeezed orange juice. It was so good, and worth spending the precious cash that we had with us (we had not prepared to be stranded out in such expensive situations). I ended up taking the hottest and most pressurized shower I've had since Japan. We checked out and I pretty much finished reading all of Hunter S. Tompsons' Rum Diaries, and sun bathed. We ended up getting a pricey lunch at the tramway and ducked out once the place filled with Jesus tour freaks. The hostel desk guy ended up letting us check back into our rooms so we wouldn't look like bums sleeping on their furniture. We ended up catching the only bus out of Mazada which neither came at 6:15 or the guard shack's 6:50pm times. I pretended to be asleep when anyone else got on so I didn't have to share my seat. The bus driver cruised possibly pushing cars off the road and ignoring people trying to wave him down with a cellphones. We made into Jerusalem around 8pm, and some pita sandwhiches, and caught a jampacked bus ride home. Everyone at the hostel was shocked to see us looking blitzed in the lobby since we had planned not to bounce back, but called the night before to reserve a bunk. After joyful reunions. I hung around talking to people till midnight, and passed out.
Location: Mazada, Israel
Today we got up early since Akko was cool, but not enough to get stranded over the Shabot for so we walked to the closet bus station and back tracked our way to Jerusalem. This time we ended up not taking the direct and ended up through parts of Tel Aviv, and other places, givng me a real feel for Israel. We stopped for lunch and a amazing burger in the bus station in Jerusalem. We ended up getting tickets to go to Mazada and told to catch a bus from terminal 3. When the bus came the driver said En Gedi only no Mazada. We said ok let's just go. We head south, drive by Jericho a desert hole, cruise along the Dead Sea, and pull into wierd resorts. En Gedi turned out to be the last of said resorts. The bus driver kicks us off and we're trapped in the desert since that was THE last bus before Shabot started (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown). The resort was too much for us, and after a little bit of desperation we got an expensive taxi 20mins down the road to Mazada, where the hostel offered us each a single room for dorm prices, which would have been the most outrageous priced dorm I had every stayed in. We realized how trapped we were by the price we had to pay for dinner buffet at a place that felt like a Y, and how there wasn't a bus until 6pm the next day. We sat in our roomand consumed some cheap scotch and stole food for breakfast from the buffet. We played more backgammon on the board David bought us in Jerusalem and then we had to pay extra for the dice later. We called it a early night since we were going to get up at 5am to climb up to Mazada and watch the sun rise.
Location: Akko, Israel
So we got up when we felt like it and went to get a bagel with some lox spread, pretty awesome getting a bagel, but not nearly as nice of a lox spread as in Alaska. Then we headed out the Jaffa Gate to end up standing at the wrong bus stop for 20mins, and then finally catching our bus to the station. Well 40 mins later the bus driveris telling us to get off and that we missed the bus station 20mins ago. So we backtrack, and spend a while going through security, which exists at every shopping mall, and large building in Israel. The guard makes me pull my singing bowl out of my bag before he let's me go. Then we waited longer for David to get some cash, and we laughed a good while at the Torah vending machine. We ended up buying a nondescript ticket and confirmed what gate it wasnt a grumpy old man. We pushed our way onto the bus to Haifa, and marveled at all the men our age shoving their rifles by their feet. I slept most of the two hour drive north, and hazily got out and had to flash my passport to get through the bus station's security. We had to take another bus to the old Haifa bus station past scenic industrial Haifa coastline that followed the Mediterrean. Then we ended having to take another bus to Akko, and got told to get off in the middle of what felt like Florida (no wonder the Jews love Florida). We stopped to get a schwama (kebab sandwhich), and the continued down the street until we reached the old city. Instantly a man helped us (free of charge) to the hostel in town. It turned we were the only ones there really. We wandered to the Citidal, and went on tour. We broke into some closed down areas and ended up in a tunnel to the surface. We also went to a lame modern art exhibit of a local painter. We then wandered to the lighthouse, andinvestigated restaurants, and decided the best place for sunset. We wandered back through town and found the Templar tunnel, and crouched through it back to the sea. We end up going up one last part of the ramparts before grabbing some stuff at the hostel and going to our place to smoke sheesha, drink beer, and eat olives while watching the sun set. We relocated at night to the restaurant upstairs ate some roast lamb, ate a amazing bowl of fruiti de mer, and drank a Cabernet from Golan Heights (its been months since I've had a suitable wine). After hours we walked home, I showered, and I called it a night.
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Today we got up late and it looked like it had never snowed yesterday. We ended up dropping off some expensive laundry and wandered down to the wailing wall with George and some Germans. After hanging out there we wandered out to the new city, and drank western coffee and ate a bunch of delicious food (I love all the food here, but it does get a bit repeative). We wandered back and played cards (1 and half Egyptian rat screw game) until we got pretty much yelled at to stop playing music and slapping the table. Plans are still up in the air for the night, but it looks like were going to a crusader castle in the north where the cote d'azure slams into the walls.
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Well they said it might, and it did snow. The entire town was covered, and whenever we thought it had stopped it would just start pouring. Everything was closed due to the weather. We wandered the streets for hours getting soaked. We hung out back at the hostel, and I taught the guys how to play shithead with 2 decks. We got a huge group until Dave and I decided to get some food with George. We braved the pouring rain in shorts. We ended up walking in a giant loop in thenew old city and found THE only place open. A bunch of people left to go to some club, but full and not in the mood (all dudes anyways), and we sat around playing cards and watched the Shining until 1am.
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
So we got up at 5:45am to go get a taxi to the bus station. When the bus left sometime before 7 we were the only passangers, and we would randomly stop and pick up random people. Eventually we made it to the Jordan border and paid our exit fee. Then we drove another 5mins and stopped at the Israel border which was filled with hot Jewish princesses, which Eric assured me was just a ruse to get us to homestead there. We ended up getting stamped, oh well f--k Syria anyways. Anyways after an hour we went and crowded into a small bus with another guy from Madison (I spotted his drivers id). We drove a half hour to Jerusalem and then the 3 of us split a overpriced cab to our gate and walked to our hostel. Which is in the citidal of the old city, and I feel like my 12 bed dorm is in a cellar, I sleep under a arch, which is pretty cool. Anyways we went out looking for a ATM, and ended up wandering forever to no where, but yet everywhere is archelogical history. Anyways after some food stops we finally found one that had cash and ended up back at the hostel for a little crash. We ended up leaving later and found a hookah coffee house in the Arab quarter, and played cards lent to us, and sat around smoking by a no smoking sign. While we were inside it started to pour, and we had to go find dinner. We ran under what cover we could find, and found some street food across the street from the old city. We came back wet and settled in for a early night.
Location: Amman, Jordan
Today I woke up at 6am again still jelagged apparently. After some Arabic coffee good, but coats your teeth with grindings, and some breakfast of a falafel sandwhich, we ended up passing on the bootleg playststion 1 games, and windows ME disks, we walked on to get bus tickets out of here. We tried to go to Damascus firs, but after a quick trip to the Syrian embassy we were told no for visas since we would've needed them from home. Then after a long taxi ride, and a awesome falafel sandwhich we were told to just come back early in the morning and just buy tickets then. We walked back to the hostel and holed up until our afternoon caffeine and wandered town for awhile. After another bout of hiding, we diver out for dinner which was a rotisserie chicken and some pitas. The youth missionaries were supposed to have already left, but God told half the group not to go. I asked them when they were told this, and I was informed during prayerhour, and one said that he wanted to go, but he was one of the ones that god said no to. I said ok....., but I'm pretty sure the were just not packed.
Location: Amman, Jordan
Well at 1:30 I get a real staticly phone call from Dave, who says he's downtown. I rush outside to we if I can catch him. After about 10mins of standing out there I found him and brought him inside. He apparently came in around 4:30am and the taxi couldn't find the place. I took him out for some falafel and chai, and we came back to figure out no luggage has come, and to sit around for the rest of the day until dinner when we hit up the famous pita and hummus place in town, and went to bed super early.
Location: Amman, Jordan
So the Jordanian currency the Dinar is stronger than the $, but yet the cost of food is so cheap, as a result 2 falafel sandwhichs are 1 dinar, but the guy would rather take a handful of change that's between .75cents to 90cents in dinar, rather than break a 10 dinar bill. Anyways still waiting on David, maybe he'll show up so I can stop hiding in Amman, which is pretty boring, and kind of like hanging out in Belize City. Also I think I'm starting to get sick, but eating at wierd times, and jetlag, and bad sleep I think is just taking its toll.
Location: Amman, Jordan
Today I sat around most of the day waiting to see if David would come in after seeing his email about being stuck in London. I figure at this point I'll see him tomorrow morning. Oh well this is why I don't plan things. Anyways half-heartedly walked through town, ate some kebab sandwhich and drank some chai, and sat back and updated my journal. 30 days of neglect hurt, and my tired hands leave 4 days behind of heavy typing and good photographic evidence to remember, but all the little shit is out of the way. Next week maybe I'll get around to photos of India. I tried but the internet is too slow everywhere.