WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT MUSLIM COUNTRIES NOW

Foreigners find mystifying the amount of mayhem permitted in the United States despite ever more draconian laws against something loosely called terrorism.   — Gore Vidal, in the year 2000

Sheikh Badfish

At least one famous dead poet believes the “cruelest month” is April. This year, it’s February. Talk about disappointments: this February has been the Super Bowl—or World Cup or Grand Slam—of disappointments here at the Badfish and Chips Café. Take just last night, for instance. I woke up with a disturbing feeling in my chest. Not heartburn, not angina, more like “dread” but emanating from the heart.

 Then a glaring flash of light sizzled through the open window. I thought it might be headlights of a car, but I’m 21 floors up. So, perhaps one of those high-intensity lighting devices they put on top of buildings, so airplanes won’t crash into them—perhaps recently misaligned. But no. It took the thunder a good long while to roll across the vast sands here in Abu Dhabi. Rain, lightning, thunder in the desert; and water on my floor—disappointing, but more disappointing because I have a singular aversion to rain. Not exactly ombrophobia, the fear of rain, I simply dislike rain, intensely, for some reason. I would love to live in Washington State or Oregon—two ecstatically beautiful, lush, and open-minded states—but I’d abhor all that rain.

The second disappointment came a few days ago. I thought I might like to change my blog title—or maybe start a new blog geared specifically to older people who want to travel or read about a geezer who travels. A title for the blog came to mind almost immediately: Geezer Travel. I should have known—it was already taken by some grumpy geezer. Then, another name bubbled up in my head: Boomer Travel. Most informational sites meant to help you learn how to blog advise you to choose a name that suggests who you are, so potential readers know what your blog is about. Like Nomad Norman. Or Edith Eats. Or Haircare Hannah. You guessed it. Boomer Travel was already taken, too. But there are always two sides to everything: upside is the blog name is for sale, I can buy the thing—for US$2200. I’ll think give that a pass. I’m pretty sure you’ll agree: Badfish and Chips Café Travel, Beer Mugs, and AARP News is a bit dodgy as a blog name, but it does get a message across.

0b-boomtrav_hdr

Another disappointment came a couple weeks ago when I discovered a very cool app built into my iPhone 6. It automatically chooses photos from your phone and turns them into a movie with music. It was—as those pesky, millennial, loathed-in-Bhutan backpackers say—quite, freakin awesome. I don’t know how I discovered the app and don’t know its name, but as I was holding my phone and being properly awed watching movies of my photos, the screen went black. And would not light up again. I took it to the Genius Bar at the local Apple shop. You know that device doctors use to look inside your ears—an otoscope—the genius had one and looked right inside my iPhone 6 with his gizmo. Long story short: my iPhone 6 was pronounced dead right there on the operating table with a flashlight in its ear.

I’m not totally broken hearted about losing the iPhone 6 because it’s a legitimate excuse to buy a new 7 Plus, which I wanted to do, mainly because the 7 has an optical zoom lens that takes photos without distorting them (they say), but I couldn’t quite talk myself into spending the cash since my 6 was only a year and a half old and—I thought—in perfect condition. I don’t mistreat it, I’ve never dropped it, I hardly use it for anything but taking photos and hailing Uber taxis, I rarely even carry it with me. And I truly have no clue what all those other people are continuously looking at on their phones.

Two days later my Apple Magic Mouse goes down. Just stops mousing. Same diagnosis—dead, nothing can be done. Can’t open it, can’t fix it. Can’t even look inside its ear with a flashlight. If I were going to Speak Out, I might suggest someone start complaining about all this over-priced Apple gear made in China (!) breaking down. I mean, the gear looks cool and spiffy, and the box—my god, the box looks like you bought it at Tiffany’s. And the bag, with a rope handle! Can’t the Apple geniuses figure a way to make the stuff less prone to the vagaries of premature tech death?

The big disappointment came, however, when the Apple genius informed me that the photos and other data on my 6 would remain on my 6 and could not be retrieved. Now before anyone starts ranting at me for not backing them up, let me just say this: I am not stupid. Lazy, cantankerous, moody, indecisive, disproportionately procrastinistic (is that even a word? I’ll google it…um…later), and I may be afflicted with mad cow disease or frontal lobe syndrome, but I’m not stupid. I usually back up my photos and writings on three separate (rather expensive) portable hard drives—one in my office, one in my daypack, one at home. I’m sometimes a little anal about certain things, like backing up photos. And yet, yeah, I allowed this to happen—it’s not easy being me.

Perhaps the most disturbing disappointment came back near the beginning of February. You know what they say about one bad apple spoiling the barrel? The Bible says one bad apple won’t spoil the whole bunch. But out here in the real world, it appears that’s exactly what happens. Especially if you’re Arabic dwelling in the barrel of Islam. Here in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of February, I learned a worrying new word from a young Muslim university student: Islamophobia.

It may not be a new word to you, but I’d never heard it. Because I presently reside outside the States, travel in foreign lands, and rarely get back to the U.S. (and have no TV and don’t read newspapers), I’m a tad outside the news loop. And if I’m honest, I generally find it more satisfying to wallow in ignorance regarding most topics in the news—and don’t some news broadcasts just seem so biased one way or the other, as though they had a visceral agenda. Or as though their priority was more about attracting viewers or making money than spreading credible news. Whatever happened to Walter Cronkite, a man you could trust, a man you could believe in? I believe it best not to begin a diatribe regarding  Islamophobia; I fear I might start saying something I should not finish.

One thing, though, I might mention about my crusty, geezer self: if you travel to, say, Marrakesh  or Timbuktu, two atavistic Islamic towns, you may not find me the most friendly or outgoing person you run across in a café there. I’m rather an introvert and apparently, possess a smidgeon of shyness, which makes me appear aloof sometimes. I may not be the most religious, or the most spiritually aware, traveler you meet. You may discover I possess an overdose of macrophobia—the fear of long waits. And a touch of agoraphobia – a fear of crowded spaces, and acrophobia – the fear of heights. I don’t know if there’s a name for a fear of the sight of blood, but that one messes with my head, too. I don’t actually fear needles, but I don’t cherish them, nor embrace both their positive and negative sides.

I admit, I harbor my share of weaknesses—I’ve failed at numerous aspects of life. I’ve failed professionally at times. I’ve failed my lovers at times. I’ve failed my children at times. And my friends. Due to these failings, I’ve been labeled disparaging names. But Islamophobe was never one of them.

And if you’re American, no matter what strong or weak characteristics you possess, is it a name we call you? I’m thinking, we are too great a nation with too much responsibility to ourselves and the world to disgrace ourselves by wandering that far back in time; to back-step our progress toward enlightenment, righteousness and decency; and to blithely slither down into the dark ravine inhabited by the overbearing ogres of Ignorance, Bias, and Folly. This is the 21st century, for pete’s sake, not the 12th. Nor even the 20th.

I was right, as you see: I have begun a diatribe that I should not finish. So I will stop. I will spare you my shallow, ill-formed and potentially-politically-incorrect thoughts on topics such as the Christian Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery in the Rebel South, Native Americans, McCarthyism, Japanese detention camps, Trump’s Walls and—no, no. I will stop. But perhaps, we should ponder another new fear: potusophobia.

Through my years of travel, I have visited numerous Muslim countries. I’ve seen sights you’ll find nowhere else in the world. I’ve glimpsed remnants of history you’ll see nowhere else in the world. I’ve witnessed pieces of culture you’ll discover nowhere else. I’ve met wonderful people in Muslim countries, had delightful experiences and conversations with perfect strangers, been invited to dinner by perfect strangers, been offered many cups of tea and coffee by perfect strangers, and when in need, I’ve been helped immensely by perfect strangers in these countries.

9 THINGS YOU FIND IN MUSLIM COUNTRIES

ABU DHABI:

Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque holds the largest single-loomed carpet in the world and perhaps the largest chandelier in a mosque, weighing 12 tons and garnished with Swarovski crystal and 24-carat gold plate. Non-Muslims are welcome to visit during non-prayer times. The mosque is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, with many of the traditional features (domes, arches, inlaid tile) and at the same time is upscale contemporary in design and simply luscious in detail. Nobody walks out of here thinking: “yeah, that was okay.” No, they walk out knowing precisely what the original intention of the word “awesome” feels like.

 

INDONESIA

Bali Rice paddy

Rice paddies, coconut palms, and thatched roofs abound in the tiny village of Tegallalang located just north of Ubud on the island of Bali. Try to arrive early in the morning to catch the sun’s rays backlighting the rice fronds as they dance in the breeze, and to beat the tour buses and taxis. Be sure to visit a local café on the ravine above the rice fields for an actually-affordable kopi luwak or a traditional breakfast of burbur ayam or nasi goreng, but mostly to linger and gaze a good long while at the lush and eloquent artistry of the landscape.

DUBAI:

Burj Al Arab - Dubai

Madinat Jumeira & Burj Al Arab:  Madinat Jumeira is the largest, and perhaps most unique, resort in Dubai—it boasts canals you can sail and appears as a traditional town, with numerous restaurants, shops, even a souk. Beyond it, the Burj Al Arab rests on its own island just off the mainland in the Persian Gulf; it is the only 7-star hotel in the world. A helo pad masquerades as a crow’s nest on top; each suite has its own butler. If your first thought is to wonder how much a room or the helo ride from the airport costs, this place is most likely way overbudget.

EGYPT:

Pyramids - Giza, Egypt

Pyramids at Giza: built almost 4600 years ago, precisely how they were erected is still quite a mystery to expert Egyptologists. They guestimate that over two million stone blocks, weighing from 2½  to over 14 tons each were utilized in the construction. Rent a camel and circumnavigate them for a lesson in humility.  Visit during winter when the weather is clear and temperatures more pleasant than summer in a desert. Carry water any time you go. And don’t rush—spend enough time here to fathom exactly what you are looking at.

IRAN:

Iran Dowry Chest

Shiraz dowry chest:  Before the invention of shelves or closets — where do you hang shelves in a tent?— most people in the world stored their worldly possessions in wooden boxes. This Persian dowry chest, with brass studs and appliqué plates would have been used by a bride to carry her dowry of clothing, fine fabrics, and jewels. She also probably utilized a steel or brass push-key spring lock to secure her valuables.

JORDAN:

Kilim Carpet - Jordan

Kilim carpet:  in Aqaba, a shop keeper named Haroun tells me the oldest known image of a loom appears on an Egyptian dish, from maybe 4000 BC. But it is believed the loom appeared earlier than the dawn of civilization, which makes a good argument for seamstress being the “oldest profession.” Nomads wandering Jordan, perhaps 100 years ago, wove this kilim carpet with weft-facing flatweave threads and no pile; they produced natural blue die from the indigo plant and used the rug as flooring in their tents.

TURKEY:

Turkish Coffee Pot

Turkish Coffee:     most people now believe an Ethiopian goatherd first discovered coffee, or rather, his goats discovered it. The goatherd simply observed them going slightly berserk after eating the ripe berries off the tree. Coffee in Turkey is different than what you might expect from your local Starbucks. Turkish coffee is prepared more like American cowboy coffee, brewed in a copper, open-top pot and sweetened with sugar while still in the pot. This elaborate coffee decanter, near the ancient town of Ephesus, elegantly displays the importance of a good cup of coffee to start your morning, or evening, anywhere in the world.

BAHRAIN:

Henna hands

Henna hands:  some experts believe the art of henna design is over 9000 years old and because of its cooling properties, was first applied in layers without design to cover and cool the body. It is now used traditionally in numerous countries during special occasions, such as weddings or birthdays, and also, as a form of decoration, the way you might apply eye liner. If you live in California, you may spot Madonna or Liv Tyler sporting the stuff.

MALDIVES:

Maldives Over-water Jacuzzi

Jacuzzi over water: guidebooks rave about the white sand beaches, unrivaled luxury, crystal-clear water, and vibrant sea life in the Maldives. Sure, of course, you’ll find all that. But sometimes, you just may desire to kick back and watch the day saunter along, while lounging in your jacuzzi on the deck of your over-water bungalow on an island quite literally in the middle of nowhere—an island you feel fairly confident produces no Islamophobia or any other phobia, except maybe the fear of departure from a place like this.

In my travels, I’ve made friends with people in Islamic countries, and lived beside them. I’ve watched women stand with outstretched arms in the rain and get drenched, like a child seeing rain for the first time, because it rains so rarely in a desert. I’ve seen old men weep when a favored camel died. I’ve seen two young men get out of their cars, walk toward each other and shake hands, then touch noses and smile before beginning their argument about whose fault the car accident was. At their core, at the center of their culture and religion and traditions, they are some of the most peaceful, loving, and warm-hearted people I’ve encountered. And sure, I understand our fears sometimes force us to become who we are. However, I pray that the one bad apple of terrorism—attended by its writhing worm of fear—will not change all this for me.

 

 

See more Lucille’s Photo Rehab

See more DP Photo Challenge: Against the Odds

See more:                 RIGHT NOW IN THE MALDIVES

Jordan:                       ANATOMY OF A NOMAD HEART & ICE CREAM

More Bali:               (EXTRA) ORDINARY: PREPARING THE PADDY

25 BEST DESTINATION TYPES for 2017

I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering that question.  – Yogi Berra
Canyon de Chelly with shadow

Shakespeare got it wrong: To be or not to be is simply not a question. This is a question: does time really fly when you’re having a good time? When I was young, I remember the marvelous few hours between school letting out and dinner as a vast chasm in the space-time continuum that expanded into sufficient realms allowing me to walk all the way home, win a touch-football game, lose a chess match, trade baseball cards, flirt with Cheri Hurd, ride my bike through the quarry, feed my dog Red, and still have time to tease and piss off my sister then endure a censuring before saying grace. But when you get older, time seems to slip through a sieve whether it’s a good time or not.

Inle Lake, Burma-Myanmar

Although it was over a year ago, it feels like just last month I was having a good time traveling solo, welcoming the New Year of 2016, and celebrating Badfish blogs’ first anniversary, by lifting a crystal flute of Dom Perignon —a few long-neck Mexican Dos Equis chilling on ice— while sitting in the Jacuzzi on the deck of my over-ocean villa in the Maldives at a highly-over-priced but, yes, romantic island resort; and, of course, bemoaning the cost of a hamburger: US$40 (which I could not bring myself to purchase). Luckily, I had packed a shedload of home-made trail mix, originally meant for the second phase of the trip through South India, where some harsh and slow-moving days you might almost be willing to pay 40 bucks for a burger. Turns out, just so you know, man can live on bread (and a few chapatis) alone.

Kerala man

Reviewed here is a medley of “best types of destinations” mentioned at Badfish and Chips Café during 2016. Hopefully, you might find yourself leaving your own footprints in some of these places, maybe in 2017, which already seems to be sifting itself into another epoch.

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MALDIVES

Maldives ocean bungalow

BEST ARCHIPELAGO TO EAT BREAKFAST,  or enjoy a jacuzzi in your over-water tub, while watching sting rays in their natural habitat in the limpid lagoon below.   READ THE STORY

Maldives stingray

BAGAN, BURMA-Myanmar

Bagan Temples, Burma-Myanmar

BEST BREATH-TAKING PLATEAU  to view atavistic Buddhist pagodas and hot-air balloons while contemplating a lost civilization and staying at a rather lavish and slightly-over-budget hotel overlooking the Ayeyarwady River.    READ THE STORY

MT POPA, BURMA-Myanmar

Mt Popa, Burma-Myanmar

BEST DAY TRIP  to a monastery built on the peak of a volcano that blew its top eons ago, where you climb 777 steps in the company of hundreds of other pilgrims arriving daily to pay homage to the intriguing and ancient animistic-Buddhist nats.   READ THE STORY

KOVALAM, INDIA

Kovalam Beach, Kerala, India

QUAINTEST BEACH TOWN to wander as a low-end budget traveler eating the remainder of your trail mix but acting like you live off someone else’s trust fund.    READ THE STORY

 

MOST SCENIC ROUTE TO DRIVE A MOTORBIKE while traveling from Kovalam to Varkala Beach in Kerala, India.

VARKALA, INDIA

Varkala, Kerala, India

BEST COASTLINE CLIFF to photograph the lovely scarlet cordia flowers and ponder whether or not to paraglide the thermals, while drinking double-shot cappuccinos made with water buffalo cream after your yoga class and surf session.     READ THE STORY

ASHTAMUNDI LAKE, KERALA

Kerala backwater boat rental

BEST PLACE TO TALK LIKE A PIRATE and time travel by renting a houseboat and pretend you’re the captain of your own man-of-war and crew of buccaneers (and chef) 100 years ago.     READ THE STORY

AMRITAPURI, INDIA

Amritapuri, Kerala, India

ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD where you can live in an ashram, satsang with a real guru, chant and leave your body, help the needy, eat salads that won’t make you sick, and never see anyone take a selfie.     READ THE STORY

KUMARAKOM BIRD SANCTUARY, INDIA

kingfisher in tree

BEST TRANQUIL SEASIDE BUNGALOW where you wake up before sunrise with nothing but a murmuring stream, gandering ducks, nosediving kingfishers, falling rubber-tree leaves, lapping waves, and trilling birdsong in your heart.   READ THE STORY

COCHIN, KERALA

Cochin steam boilers on beach

MOST SURREAL CITY where you find the oldest active synagogue near fishermen napping on shore by deserted steam boilers and ancient Chinese bamboo fishing nets perched just offshore like hulking birds of prey.

YANGON, BURMA-Myanmar

monk Yangon

BEST CITY TO WATCH MONKS do what monks do when not in a monastery while photo-bombing yourself in the scene.   READ THE STORY

INLE LAKE, BURMA- Myanmar

Inle Lake Cabin, Burma-Myanmar

EASIEST PLACE TO CHILL in a third world, where anything could go wrong at any moment, and not feel guilty while watching others fret and work and worry.     READ THE STORY

MANDALAY, BURMA/ Myanmar

Palace wall, Mandalay, Burma

BIGGEST SURPRISE —after everyone advised to give it a miss, turns out, Mandalay is one of the highlights of the year even though it is a large, unkempt city and noisy and dirty with filthy air and poor sewage, with no bagels, no big Buddha, and no Starbucks.     READ THE STORY

U BEIN BRIDGE, BURMA/ Myanmar

U Bein Bridge sky

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT —if you’re tired of learning your lessons, remember what they say about having expectations when traveling. It’s just that in all the photos you see in National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and other travel blogs, U Bein appears so marvelous; but when you arrive, you finally understand the word “teeming”. You find knots of monks on cell phones, a sea of tourists raising their arms and sticks for selfies, shoddy shacks and stalls of cheap souvenirs and sodas, boatmen hawking to row you out on the lake in gaudy boats, and all your own photos turn out rubbish—well, it’s your own fault for harboring expectations.     READ THE STORY

DHAKA, BANGLADESH

Dhaka street, Bangladesh

MOST COSMIC CITY STREET, crowded with pedestrians and trishaws—most powered with pedals, some with motors. Nirvana for those who love walking in thongs on a muddy road.    READ THE STORY

GULSHAN, BANGLADESH

Dhaka, Bangladesh breadmaker

GRANDEST TRAFFIC JAM AND CHEAPEST EATS: you can eat lunch for US$1.50 and be so full you won’t need dinner. But if you’re the type to gorge, dinner will only cost you $2.50. However, it might take you an hour and a half to travel 3 miles by car sometimes.

Advice du jour: don’t swim in the river, don’t drink the water, hire a driver, and reserve a chic hotel within walking distance of a row of fine-dining restaurants, or a cheap hotel near the bread maker.   READ THE STORY

THIMPHU, BHUTAN

prayer wheels, Bhutan

MOST ANCIENT AND WELL-PRESERVED PRAYER WHEELS that somehow, miraculously calm your mind and soothe your body as you walk by.     READ THE STORY

TIGER’S NEST MONASTERY, BHUTAN

Tiger's Nest monastery, Bhutan

BEST ONE-DAY HIKE  (if a bit strenuous)—a climb to 3120 meters (10,400 feet); most of it straight up; all of it over earth and rocks; some of it, evading goats and donkeys; some of it, sidestepping guides hauling ill-prepared tourists back down.

Advice du jour: If you go, get physically fit first and don’t wear stilettos. Or, hike only to the half-way restaurant and carry large binoculars.    If you don’t go: READ THE STORY

KATMANDU, NEPAL

Katmandu street, lady with baby

FUNKIEST STREET WITH A WORLD RECORD for most overhead electricity wires and one-rock porches and cute babies and ugly paint in a town recovering from one devastating natural disaster after another.    READ THE STORY

AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND

Amsterdam bicycles, flower market

MOST COMFORTABLE CITY TO RIDE A BIKE while eating cheese and bitterballen through a red-light district without stopping to smoke anything.    READ THE STORY

BLARICUM, HOLLAND

Blaricum, Holland/ Hobbit House

BEST VINTAGE VILLAGE to pretend you’re Bilbo Baggins living at Bag End in the shire of Hobbiton where you may observe the magic of the ring of recycling and garbage removal. READ THE STORY

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

Prague, Charles Bridge, swan

MOST CONVENIENT OLD TOWN to learn the protocol for drinking absinthe and actually see green fairies and photograph swans and paddle-wheel riverboats near a 650-year-old bridge held together with egg yolks and prayers.   READ THE STORY

BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA

Bratislava, roof top, flowers

MOST INTERESTING SLEEPER CITY,  which at first blush appears to be the wallflower at the party of A-list tourist cities, but it turns out, she can dance.   READ THE STORY

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Budapest view of Parliament

BEST VIEW WHILE DOWNING HIGH TEA in the afternoon on a warm summer day while solo traveling and missing home after getting kicked out of the Hilton right next door.   READ THE STORY

TARXIEN, MALTA

Tarxien, Malta -- red phonebooth

MOST INTERESTING NEIGHBORHOOD from which to call home on a payphone that actually works when you find no cell phone service near stone-slab temples that outdate both the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge.     READ THE STORY

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi, night lights

BEST DESTINATION TO COIN A NEW PHRASE FOR TRAVELERS, as 85% of the population here are expats from 120 different countries, 15% are local Emiratis; so the lingua franca is English, allowing everyone to easily communicate here in Babel. The new phrase we coin should be something like: lingua Engla.

Abu Dhabi ocean villa

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ONE MORE QUESTION:  if someone bought you an air ticket and a suite in the Hilton, which of the above best places would you most desire to visit, or which one would you least desire to visit in 2017?

 Burma - young monks, food bowl

Graceful young monks in Burma stand in line for breakfast

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DP PHOTO CHALLENGE:      Graceful

WP Discover Challenge:       The Greatest _______ in the World

See more of Lucile’s:              Photo Rehab

2 THONGS DON’T MAKE IT WHITE

If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.  – Frank A. Clark

thongs

The Path of Perseveration

I don’t mean to perseverate on anything. On thongs. On poop. On tats. On rice paddies. On Starbucks. On Buddhas. On mountains, oceans, doors. Bridges. Fairies. Miracles. These things just seem to find a way of perseverating in my reality, in my travels. At least that’s what I thought until I recently read an article—only part of the article, actually, as it was long…and it disturbed me, and I got distracted. The article said if you have frontal lobe damage, you could exhibit particular behavioral problems.

The article also mentioned that some of these problems may appear as ADD, which in previous posts, I’ve faux-facetiously quipped about having—because why else would I be so…effectively erratic? In another article I read years ago, it listed all the symptoms of ADD; I had every single one of those symptoms. They have no accurate way to diagnose ADD, and even if you exhibit symptoms, or even all the symptoms, you may or may not have it. I had no other excuse for being who I am, so we just had to go with poster child for ADD.

However, in this new article on frontal lobe damage, they also list the possible behaviors on frontal lobe damage. Get this, I exhibit most of the effects; here are a few examples:

poor planning (sound familiar?),

indecision (decisions are for sissies),

impaired attention (um…what were we talking about?),

asocial (bite me).

Oh and this one—perseveration (you think?).

But I particularly like this one: chronically irrelevant (They now have clinical proof that Listerine actually does cure gonorrhea of the throat).

girl with fish

Mural at Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi

So now, I’m beginning to imagine I may have frontal lobe damage. But how do you find out if you have frontal lobe damage or not when you’re in a third world and half the world away from home and real doctors, and because it doesn’t show up in an MRI in any country?

In the past, I could always tolerate, even embrace, my…um…being the way I am, believing I was slightly quirky, endearingly quirky even, and perfect in my quirkiness, possibly even superior—just so you know “delusions of grandeur” is not on either list. But now? I don’t know. If I’m damaged, and I’m like this not because I’m different and cool and endearingly quirky and superior (if maybe slightly narcissistic)…but damaged. That doesn’t sound so cool and quirky, or superior.

I’m unsure I even want to discover if I have frontal lobe damage. And how would that have happened anyway—fell out of my crib? Hit my head surfing? I was thrown off my horse, Kriya, once but went to the hospital for the shoulder injury, not my head. The article states any number of causes, even simple reasons like the “effect of anesthesia or some illness”—huh…you get brain damage from removing your tonsils or blowing your nose?

Here’s a scary thought: what if I have it, and they cure me—who will I be then? Will I set goals and plan and follow through; will I begin to give two shits about stupid stuff; will I —GASP!— be normal? See, this is why I don’t read newspapers and articles like this. It never turns out well for people who lean towards reality, common sense, or paranoia.

face with travel guidebooks

Badfish believing he might become normal

OUT OF THE LOOP

Since I don’t read newspapers, have a TV, or follow news online, I’m out of the loop regarding most news. I get most of my news reading weekly magazine covers and tabloids at checkout counters. I do know Brangelina broke up, but no details of why. I know Kim Kardashian got robbed, but no details of how or where or when. Prince died, but I don’t know the story. Princess Leia died. Prince Harry is dating someone I never heard of. Someone attempted a coup in Turkey. And that Trump thing—I know very little about that.

The first time I heard anything about his even running was when I stopped off for water while driving from Bagan to Mount Popa in Burma. I’m still calling it Burma, call this what you want—perseveration, asocial. The old man behind the counter speaking poor English asked what I thought about Trump. I had no idea what he was talking about. But several months later while watching news in a bar on Valletta’s Strait Street (formerly the red light district, now a throw-back bizarro ally) on Malta, the one thing I heard Trump say was something like we never should have invaded Iraq. You gotta hand it to him for that kind of honesty. Probably no other politician, not even a Democrat would utter those—brutally honest, perhaps politically incorrect—words, if only out of respect for our troops.

Since the trips to Mt Popa and Malta, I have read that some people, perhaps the ones with a modicum of intelligence, say an IQ over 60, might harbor a bit of fear regarding the new president. They believe it could all go haywire. The grandness of America sinking into a morass of folly. But really, how different could it be between him and, say, Reagan or Little Bush—both on The Atlantic’s short list for “worst leader of all time”, right up there with Hitler. Stalin. Lord Voldemort. I mean, did those Presidents lead us in the right direction? Perhaps, it’s simply that they didn’t warn us ahead of time. So, we had nothing to fear until we were knee-deep in poop and hindsight. At least with Trump, we know what’s what. We may or may not savor it, but we know what he’s thinking.

We may not know how good a leader he is yet, but Trump apparently is not a good politician because obviously good politicians keep the herd in the dark, unaware. Good politicians don’t scare people. Good politicians don’t say things like ‘I’m going to bend you over that barrel for the next four years, dude.’ Good politicians sneak up on you, make you believe one thing, while they do another. Good politicians would say: mind if I take a selfie with you…um… perhaps you could lean against that barrel there … no ,no, turn around.

I’m trying to stay positive about all this political stuff. The way I’m trying to see things is like this: at least we know that the guys who are actually pulling the strings now are the guys we’re seeing in office. I mean, do any of us actually believe Reagan (or even GWB) had his hands on the reins at any moment of his reign? I’ve been so apolitical all my life, that it doesn’t seem possible, to me, for one President to do any more damage than the others before him have done.

I could be wrong, but for me, it couldn’t get much worse. To me, there is one main harm these previous presidents have caused: they spoiled traveling. Especially if you’re American. A few decades ago, it was truly marvelous to be an American out traveling the world. People loved Americans, honored you, bought you drinks, wouldn’t let you buy the next round, took you home for dinner. These days, you might get a shiv in the gut just for standing next to an American in a bar on Strait Street. Presidents in the past created some bad juju for travelers.

Strait Street, Valletta, Malta

Laundry day on Strait Street, Valletta, Malta

What Some People Say

I’ve read that some people think Trump is an ass. But, show me one politician or leader who isn’t an ass on some level. You may not know this, but the etymology of the word “leader” comes from the Uzbekistan word for donkey. Most politicians try to hide their assness, but Trump seems to be just fine knowing that everyone believes he’s an ass. It’s rather refreshing. Maybe we all should simply try to imagine this as mighty-fine stand-up comedy, or Season 2 of his reality show.

I recently read this ditty: he’s filling his cabinet with his (what some people in the media are calling his “scumbag”) buddies who screwed us all in our collective butt, under those other presidents we voted into office believing we were safe and secure in a great nation. I don’t know who they are or whether or not they’re scumbags, but those guys, those (perhaps, scumbag) buddies with all that money and power, were the guys running the show before. Maybe it’s best we know who is running the show, instead of having them lurking in the shadows and pulling the strings from behind the curtains with impunity and collecting millions of dollars in year-end bonuses and building contracts, after screwing us in the butt—without the cherry-flavored lubricant.

Any argument always has two sides; otherwise, it’s a soliloquy. I say, let’s wait until something happens before we begin to worry. No President can just go down to the Texas border and build a wall, you know. And really, would that be a bad thing? OK, political correctness, mental acuity, common sense, and all aside. I mean, if what the weeklies say is true, they now want us to teach our elementary schools in Spanish, too. This is Amurica. We have one national language. Thousands of people a day are sneaking into our country illegally. Thousands a day. And staying here. Illegally. And raising families. Illegally. And then demanding stuff. And getting what they want now because there are so many of them, they now hold sway over elections. Is there something wrong with that picture?

And don’t get me wrong: I love Mexico, I’ve traveled extensively through Mexico, I lived for two years in Manzanillo, I love Mexicans, I’ll probably retire in Mexico. Two of my best friends are Mexican—they call me Paco. One of my ex-wives is Mexican—she calls me another name, as that didn’t end well, but it wasn’t because she was Mexican. That woman could make a mean fish taco. And my daughter is half Mexican. But there’s always a line drawn in the sand somewhere for us all, isn’t there?

If you’re a lawyer, you might care to introduce the notion of precedent: remember FDR? Who doesn’t love FDR? Everybody loved, still loves, FDR. Maybe one of the greatest Presidents of all time. I’d bet if there were a top ten list of most-popular Presidents, FDR would be in the top five, right up there with Kennedy, Lincoln, Washington. FDR did not build a wall at the border after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. No, he issued Public Proclamation Number 1 and rounded up the Japanese Americans—all of them—stripped them of all their belongings, and stuck them in huts they had to build themselves in a holding pen with thousands of others surrounded with barbed wire and machine guns “for their own protection” in some desert with no sewers or toilets. And the funny (not funny ha-ha) thing is that when that happened, many folks in America applauded the action. Some senators, for crying out loud, wanted to ship them all back to Japan. Americans, apparently, have always been Amuricans: each of us from someplace else, and fearful of others from someplace else—a smoldering streak of redneck lying just beneath the surface in us all.

BELOW THE TROPIC OF CANCER

But we’re here today to talk about thongs. So let’s talk about thongs. This is why I now fear I have frontal lobe impairment: impaired attention, poor planning — do you see any relevant straight line of reasoning in the diatribe above leading to the tropic of thongs? And what’s with the lady with the fish photo? And what’s this Buddha from Burma photograph doing here in this rant?

Buddha with sky

All I wanted to do today in this post was perseverate a bit on the topic of thongs, mostly because some commenters recently seemed to be pursuing the topic of thongs. But somehow, I got side-tracked. On a topic I obviously know nothing about, and care nothing about. Chronically irrelevant…indeed.

The thong photo at the top depicts my own personal thongs purchased on my most-recent trip to Bali, worn only a few times in Ubud. The two photos below were taken by Alison over at Adventures in Wonderland and display her latest artistic-style photography. She and Don are presently hanging out and posting at Playa del Carmen in Mexico’s Yucatan. Alison and Don do not perseverate on thongs. But they noticed our thread of comments and perseveration and what was happening in comments here, for instance, this one by Carol at The Eternal Traveler:

2-carol-eternal-thongs

And Alison and Don thought they’d share their artful take on thongs with us.

bikini thong

photo credit: Alison Armstrong

I like both of Alison’s artistic photos, which depict two different versions of bikini thongs—skimpy and uber-skimpy. But I especially like the photo depicting both kinds of “thongs” —foot and bikini— in one shot. In a shot like this, nobody needs to ponder just which kind of thong do you mean—you see the thong, and you see the thongs. A no-brainer, no need for discussing just what is what. A built-in perseveration blocker.

bikini thongs & fisherman

photo credit: Alison Armstrong

But I will admit that for some reason, I prefer looking at the other type of bikini thong, the ones with a little more material. Perhaps because the type with less cloth forces you to acknowledge that it’s a thong; you see the waistband, and then you watch it slither into the abyss. And even though it should be more sensual because there’s less material and more skin, it forces you to realize that there’s something being bunged, or rubbed or perhaps even chafed, in there. And you know it can’t be comfortable.

And then you start pondering the idea of waxing all that area down there just so you can wear the thing, and how uncomfortable and extremely painful that must be, and then you start thinking what a woman must endure not only while she’s wearing a thong — physical and emotional — because you don’t just slip into a thong and forget you’re wearing it like you would a sweater. And there’s all the trauma she endures before she can even put the thing on. And just what is the protocol for trying one on in the store. Talk about ick factors. And then you wander down the dark chasm of impropriety of a woman not waxing before wearing a thong, and it takes a while to get that picture out of your head.

So then, rather than be entertained by eye-balling a beauty in a thong, you just begin to feel sorry for her, and you begin to feel sorry for yourself and uncomfortable, and your own butt begins to feel a gnarly sympathetic-wedgy bung, and then you begin to get annoyed…thong-riding-up-your-butt annoyed, so now you can’t even appreciate the humor in the sight of such a white moon glaring against her previous tan line.

So I suppose we should all be glad that we’re not sitting on the beach at Playa del Carmen on the Mexican Riviera with Alison and Don and being forced to look at that stuff all day. Apparently, there really are two sides to everything.

Over the past year, we’ve perseverated thoroughly on thongs, Buddhas, poop, and other bushwa here at Café del Malceviche. What topic could possibly be next for us to languish on? Perhaps, the Uzbekistan word for “politician” which—you might find this interesting—from the Uzbeki language translates quite literally to “soiled thong”.

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Almost forgot:

For those of you who missed—or those of you who miss—the persevation on poop, you might like this site: POOP HUMOR

See more DP Photo Challenge:     Resilient

See more posts on Malta:  

Malta

Another Side of Malta

See more at Lucile’s: Photo Rehab

5 BRIDGES OF BUDAPEST: at Night

Not knowing where I’ll end up is a given. –Dr. Lisa K. Glueck

Chain Bridge Buda Castle Budapest

I’m pretty sure we all know the worst part about stowing away on a cruise ship is not the black leather patch you need to wear over your eye nor perching a parrot on your shoulder so you fit in with the crowd. The worst aspect of stowing away is that you have no control over where you go or when you arrive, and who knows who your shipmates might be: pirates, thieves, boomers. Continue reading

ONE FINE DAY in BRATISLAVA: Part III

I am no longer curious about the world. I get it. Now all that is left is chasing beauty and kindness   — Beth Byrnes

Bratislava Old Town cafe

Some people say the Old Town Main Square is the heart of Bratislava. They also say Schone Naci hung out here in his day. Schone Naci in Slovak means “beautiful Naci.” His real name was Ignac Lamar; the diminutive for Ignac is Naci (like Bill for William). He preferred Café Mayer right on the corner of the Hlavne Namestie, the main square, but there are numerous other cafes here that you might like. Continue reading

ONE FINE DAY in BRATISLAVA: Part II

I’d rather sleep in Budapest (or in Vienna)—particularly because good-value options in central Bratislava are slim, and service tends to be surly.—Rick Steves

Bratislava architecture--windows

WHAT’S UP WITH BRATISLAVA?

Coke lite, Miller Lite, Hungry Jack Syrup Lite—Bratislava is a lot like that. Compared to your average European-bucket-list cities, Bratislava is an unassuming wallflower at the party. Many tourists overlook it completely. Some stop off for a few hours before boarding a riverboat cruise and put it on their list, because it wasn’t there before, just so they can tick it off.

Continue reading

ONE LONG ROAD TO BRATISLAVA: Part l

In life, just getting through the day, there’s not really step-by-step instructions; you gotta figure this shit out.   – Trey Ratcliff

Goats in Prague

Sometimes, it seems the world is running with scissors. Take 1969 for instance. Nixon sits in the White House and covertly attacks Cambodia without permission from Congress, then lies. Someone has actually named their baby Sirhan Sirhan, and he grows up and shoots a Kennedy—on freakin TV. Charles Manson and his brain-washed junta slay rich people in LA and are not sorry. Three hippies die at Woodstock—one, from being stupid and stuffing too much of a good thing into his veins; another, for being stupid and not realizing the pain in his side is a ruptured appendix; the third, for being extra stupid by sleeping in a brown camouflage sleeping bag in the mud and getting run over by a tractor.

Continue reading

DANCING WITH THE GREEN FAIRY AFTER MIDNIGHT

1-elephants-7873no

You have to wonder if there isn’t grace in the duality of every adventure: the good and bad, the wild and tame, the sage and silly, the risky and safe, the well-planned and wonky. They are all the same to a traveler who wanders without judgment, without bias, without expectations. But how does one do that? We are only human, we teethe at the breast of our subjectivity. We breathe our limitations: we inhale preconception and preference; we exhale segregation and reprisal. Continue reading