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Monks and Mayans

The following is an excerpt from my memoir “The Kid Who Got Away”:

While in therapy at the Transpersonal Psychology Institute in Menlo Park, California, my therapist felt that I would be a great candidate for past life regressions.  He thought this might be helpful to my growth and healing. I thought it sounded interesting and we began. After getting me into a very deep and relaxed state, I experienced several very clear visualizations. They were vivid, similar to High Definition movies.

In one, I was a Japanese Buddhist monk, a very old teacher. I wore the usual ochre robes and carried a long walking stick. I lived in a small hut between a dirt path and a vast series of rice paddies. After going out with my bowl to receive the simple food offerings of local villagers, I would return, eat and meditate. Occasionally, I would take on a student.

One afternoon, I heard a great commotion coming from up the dirt road. Horsemen attending to a young man approached. He dismounted and was announced as the Shogun’s only son. He proceeded to place to kneel in front of me on the tatami’s of my little hut, placing his sword next to him. He stated that he was here because his father had ordered him to receive my wisdom. He then demanded that I quickly give him this wisdom so he could be on his way. He had much more pressing matters to attend to.

I noted his arrogance and dismissed him immediately. This did not please the Shogun’s son. He had fire in his eyes as he rode off in a huff with his entourage. No one had ever had the temerity to speak to him like that and he vowed never to return. Apparently, his father thought differently.

He returned several times. I dismissed him each time. Each time his father sent him back. I told him he didn’t have enough humility to be taught anything by a cockroach, let alone a buddhist monk. I wasn’t going to waste my time on him. Each time, his anger grew.

Soon after our last encounter, I was returning home with my begging bowl full of the day’s offerings. I came to a fork in the road not far from where I lived. To my right was my hut. To my left was a road that led out of town. I knew that the arrogant youngster was waiting for me, sword at the ready. If he got the same response as usual, it was his intention to cut my head off and leave it at the entrance to my hut.

I had no belongings. I knew that the road to the left led to freedom. I could simply walk away and be down with all of this silliness. There were many wandering monks. I would be just be another faceless robed priest, begging bowl in hand, on the road to wherever his meditations might lead him.

I chose the road to certain death.


nolatravelinman

The Yucatan Peninsula. That name has always conjured up romantic images of the road that runs around the world; the road I have found myself moving along many times in my life. Like many places along this road, I’ve had to see it for myself. At last, I’m here.

In some ways, these images have been shattered by this trip. As I experienced upon my return to Bali after 40+ years, time has left it’s mark once again on what was once pristine and uncluttered. The Yucatan Peninsula is now the “Mayan Riviera.”  Where there were once locals, a few Western travelers and a simple way of life, there a resorts, locals hustling tourists and a Hard Rock Café. Time marches along to the beat of capitalism’s “Disco Dollar” theme song.

Still there is much for me to enjoy in this beautiful place. I feel so at home here in the jungle. I awaken to a sunrise symphony of 2Birdsbirds singing and cawing out their good morning greetings to each other as small creatures rustle through the underbrush, the wind singing through the leaves of a diverse array of greenery. My hotel is also an eco-friendly game preserve. There are animals everywhere. Just up the road is a rescued deaf black panther and a blind spotted leopard. The panther paces and the leopard points his unseeing eyes at me, wondering if what he smells might be on the menu. I met “Nala” the baby lion and was warned that, though the cub was very cute, I could lose a finger.

IguanaCroc

Bicylists

I was chauffered around the pre-Columbia ruins in Coba on a bicycle powered by a Mayan who huffed and puffed me up and down hills that would have given me a coronary.

Pyrimid2PyramidTulum Dinner  I had a “tipico Mexicano” dinner in Tulum.

The sun was shining brightly through puffy clouds as I swam in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea in Akumal,   SandSign

where you can swim with the giant turtles and view coral reefs and tranquil fish,

Chiqa  or simply sit back and view the wildlife.

Playa del Carmen was so crowded with tourists and resorts that I stayed just long enough to eat on the beach. I couldn’t wait to leave. I don’t think there’s enough tea in China to tempt me into living in an over-developed resort town  like Playa del Carmen.

I’ve only been here two days yet I’ve seen so much already. Tomorrow begins phase 2 of this excursion: the chill phase. This phase doesn’t include much activity. Hammock, reading, writing and, well…chillin’. In the meantime

Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”

Nala          “Meow”

A New Start and a New Home

Excerpt from my memoir “The Kid Who Got Away
The Bali I discovered after leaving Australia in the early 70s was an enchanting Shangrila, without any of the trappings that come with a western presence. There was one hotel, the Bali Beach Hotel and one restaurant, La Taverna Bali Village. The tiny airport had a landing strip in Denpasar so short that airplanes had to practically land vertically. It was truly a paradise lost with sweet people, a few travelers who’d discovered it and the ever-present traditions of art and dance that never ceased. Magic was a piece of the fabric of the Bali I found when I stepped off that plane.
My reunion with Prophecy was joyful. They were still the same crazies I’d met at the Hotel Indonesia in Djakarta but had met with some turmoil since my departure. Jumpin’ Jet, the financier, went nuts. He’d emptied the Prophecy communal abode and sent everyone scurrying with threats of violence and mayhem. The dream still lived in their hearts but had relocated to Bali.
They had secured a gig at La Taverna Bali Village, a gourmet Italian restaurant (actually, the only restaurant) in the Sanur area. The owner, whom they called the Viscount (he was an actual British Viscount), paid them fifty rupias and a meal. In exchange, they brought their rag-tag music into his first class, four-star gourmet restaurant. I sat in and we played as if I’d never left. I was home.
I took up residence in Sanur. I had a small hut at the end of a coconut grove, on the sand, behind a stone sea wall about two feet high. I paid no rent. I didn’t even know if there was anyone to pay rent to. There was an unobstructed view of the ocean and a smoking Gunung Agung volcano off in the distance as I stood in my doorway.
In the mornings, the coral reef would keep the tide at bay. I could lie on my back in the cool waters as if in a bathtub. My nearest neighbors on either side were no less than a quarter of a mile from me. At the other end of the coconut grove was a  Wayong Kulit shadow puppet-theater. On an early evening, you could hear the children laugh and thrill to the puppets reenacting the ancient Hindu classics, the Ramayana and Mahabarata. I never wore shoes and I never wanted for anything.
In the evenings, those few western travelers present on the island would gather at Kuta Beach, where huge waves crashed thunderously day and night into forever. A bonfire was built and guitars produced as the sky painted sunsets using colors from a palette I’d never seen before. It was truly a joyful aerial musical show, with a soundtrack produced by wanderers carving a traveler’s mandala around the world. We sang the night away.

nolatravelinman

San Miguel de Allende lies atop a series of hot spring that are healing and calming. My friend Sophie is determined to show me all of them. La GrutaEscondido Place and Taboada Hot Springs are all on beautifully well-kept grounds. One has an olympic sized lap pool. All have little restaurants, lockers, grounds keepers and attendants. For a small entrance fee, you can soak in the waters and use all the facilities. I understand that the springs are much busier on the weekends. During the week, we were practically alone. I have walked away from each of my visits refreshed and at peace with the world.

I did it.   Pap1  I broke my silence.

A buddy of mine by the name of David Garza has a band that secured a gig at “Paprika,” in the San Antonio section of SMA. With a little prodding from him and Sophie, I did a couple of standards like  “Satisfaction”  and “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

Pap2It was the first time I’d sung a song in front of anybody in about two years. The pipes were rusty but still held water. The dance floor was full. I had a great time. Stay tuned…

On one of our trips to Escondido Hot Springs, Sophie drove by a house a couple of blocks from my apartment. I noticed it was for rent. She said she was familiar with the house, having taught astrology there years ago. I asked her to stop. I asked her to write down the phone number and call. She did. The owner, a sweet Mexican woman who had raised her children in that house, arrived fifteen minutes later. We went inside. It is huge but costs less than the much smaller apartment I’m currently in. We went to the hot springs. I thought about it, though I had already made up my mind. I looked for the holes but couldn’t find any. SMA was opening its heart to me again. I accepted the invitation. I move in Dec. 20.

As we sealed the deal in the traditional Mexican manner, with great big warm hugs all around, my new landlady and her husband (an amazing artist) taught me the proper way to perform a Mexican hug. She taught me that you must place the head over the other persons left shoulder, positioning each huger’s heart in closer proximity to each other. She said, “Corazón a corazón,” meaning “Heart to heart.”

I’m off for some warm Caribbean waters next Thursday for a week-long vacation from my everyday vacation. I’ve burnt out yet another camera but quickly got a replacement for this trip. No more point and clickers for me. I’m going DSLR all the way, baby! Gotta show you some great shots of Xpu-Ha Beach and the giant turtles in Akumal on the Yucatan Peninsula. In the meantime:

Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”

Boo Tofu

“Meow”

Ancient Bali and Travel Angels

Excerpt from my memoir “The Kid Who Got Away

The Bali I discovered after stepping off that plane from Australia was an island on which art and ritual were an integral part of everyday life, a part of everyone’s daily existence. You might see the kid that’s sweeping out your house performing a 400 year-old dance that same night, unrecognizable in full makeup and costume. The Barong Dance and the Kejak or “Monkey Dance” stood out as the most colorful and popular, though the Legong was also performed frequently.  Villages practice daily rituals at the small temples erected outside of every home and temples big and small throughout the island.

The Barong Dance symbolizes the eternal struggle between good and evil. The good is represented by the lion-like Barong, king of the spirit world, leader of all that is good. The evil is represented by his nemesis, Rangda, the demon queen. Locals told me that whenever there was illness or maybe discord amongst neighbors in their village, a Barong Dance was organized. This was necessary in order to exorcise the negative energy and clean the spiritual environment.

Today, most Barong Dances are performed for tourists at theaters, hotels and temples. The first time I witnessed a Barong Dance was late one full moon night on a dirt road leading up to Kuta Beach, the surf roaring in the background. At one point, select men from the village approached Rangda, intent on attacking and driving her away. This first night, I was very close to the action, no one between me and the dancers. As the young village men attacked Rangda, she turned the kris knives against them with her power at full force. I watched in awe as the knives actually bent. I was very close to one young man. He put the tip of the kris knife into his eye right. The knife bent. The astonished and vanquished Rangda ran off, fleeing into the jungle.

The young villager sustained no damage to his eye. I spoke with him later. He said that he had been protected from harm by the energy of the villagers and especially by the power of Barong. Magic was alive that night in Bali.


nolatravelinman

They are crucial. They make assimilation into a new environment so much easier. They grease the works and show you the ropes. I don’t know what to call them other than “Travel Angels.” Mine took me under his wing about twenty minutes after my arrival here in San Miguel.

I had plans and the Traveling Gods laughed. I had my backpack, my guitar and my laptop. I had made eight reservations through Air BnB in different cities all over Mexico. After a short visit with my friend Robert in Playas del Tijuana (during which I decided that the beach life was not for me…yet) I headed for my next stop: a planned week-long stay in San Miguel de Allende.

I dropped my stuff of in my room, joined my host Marcia in the courtyard and in off the street he casually dropped by. Harry had lived in SMA for seven years. He took one look at me and said, “Come with me.” He led me down the street to an open studios fiesta of San Miguel artists. It seemed like he knew everyone in town. I later began to refer to him as the “Unofficial Mayor of SMA.” He was kind and generous. Still is. Only now, he’s a friend as well.

He asked me how long my reservation at Marcia’s BnB was. I told him a week, after which I had plans to head off to Merida in the Yucatan. He said, “I’m off to the States for six weeks. You should rent my place. Stick around for a while. I think you might find that this place has a lot more to offer than you might think.” I did. When he got back, he found me a most  magnificent townhouse at a ridiculously cheap rate.

Marcia, the wacky innkeeper who’s BnB I stayed at initially, has helped so much. So has a new friend, Frank. Sophie, a friend of a buddy of mine in the states, has been exceptionally generous. She has a car and has taken me to the Sanctuary at Atotonilco, La Gruta Hot Springs, and to “Shoppers Paradise” for expats here, Celaya where we used her Costco card to get so many of the “comfort foods” that you can’t find in SMA. She is a healer and aware of my need to heal both physically and spiritually from the Katrina, cancer and my artistic struggles of the past couple of years. She is becoming a true confidant and friend.

Without the help of these “Travel Angels,” my entry into day-to-day life in SMA would have been slowed greatly. I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t eat turkey. I can be thankful, though. I am truly grateful to them for their love, time and generosity.

Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”

KittiesTheOne

“Meow…btw, we sleep16 to 20 hours a day so, we don’t give a shit.”

Festivals and Fiestas

The following is an excerpt from my memoir “The Kid Who Got Away.”

One night after a show, I returned to my hotel room for an interview with a lovely writer for a major Australian rock magazine. After the interview, we engaged in an interview of a more personal sort, rolling around my hotel suite all night ‘til the sun came up. She had come prepared, complete with cocaine, pot, and some very powerful psychedelic mushrooms she had procured. You name it. She had it. We did it. So much for journalistic objectivity.

On no sleep and a small breakfast, we headed off to the site of the Myponga Rock and Pop Festival where thousands upon thousands had camped out Woodstock-style, awaiting the opening of a show with headliners like Cat Stevens, Black Sabbath and Syrius. Stevens was a no-show. We were brought in as a last minute replacement.

We went on that night and did what might have been our best show ever. The crowd was insane, complete with topless girls on boyfriends’ shoulders and amplifiers piled high into the sky. I had 20 Marshall Amps set up for my bass alone. I hadn’t played drums in years. I moved the drummer over and went into The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends.” It’s pretty amazing hearing the words you’re singing echoed by so many thousands of zonked-out people in the middle of the night. It was controlled madness a la 1970.

We played long and hard and came off exhausted, thrilled and totally disoriented. Black Sabbath was up next. Ozzie Osborne approached me and asked me about the equipment. I think he was just nervous about following us after churning the audience into a frothy frenzy. I was so spaced out that I couldn’t understand what the hell he was saying in that thick cockney accent, filtered through whatever drugs were addling his brain. I guess that’s one of my claims to fame. I was once too fucked up to talk to Ozzie Osborne.

I felt the soothing arms of the journalist I’d spent the night with. She seemed to understand my inability to string a sentence together. I felt relieved as she gently led me off to safety. Backstage was just an open field and there were so many people clawing at me. I was so happy as she tucked me into her Volkswagen Beetle and to what I thought was safety.

She got in and began fiddling with something. Next thing I knew, she was sticking a microphone in my face saying, “I’m here live with half of Black Fire, who have finished what just might be the highlight of the biggest rock festival in Australian history. How do you feel?”

I wanted to scream! Here I was, too stoned out to talk with one of the biggest stoners of our time and this woman wants me to talk to the entire country! I can only imagine the look on her face as I ejected myself from her little bug and ran off into the safety of the surrounding woods.


nolatravelinman:

The party is on here in SMA and throughout Mexico. She is celebrating one of her most important victories: The Mexican Revolution (Revolución mexicana) or Mexican Civil War (Guerra civil mexicana). This was a major, bloody armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Diaz, and lasted for the better part of a decade until around 1920.

There are colorful parades

paradeHorsesfemaleSoldiersparadeBlueparadeWhite

and revelers all over town dressed in costumes depicting Zapata’s soldiers and traditional characters. Of course, there is music everywhere, along with cries of “Viva Mexico!” echoing through the streets.

tresAmigosjuanManueltiaCatrinamusicians

The colors are amazing. The fireworks, brilliant. The party is non-stop. I had to interrupt this writing to run outside and witness a parade of about 100 locals, complete with banners and traditional musicians, all singing “Cielito Lindo.” I live on Calle Cielito Lindo. Throughout the night, you can hear groups of people singing traditional songs in the streets. 5:30 a.m. brought a massive 15 minute fireworks display and church bells clanging all over town, with roosters  and dogs competing for the loudest complaints. There is no sleeping through this.

The only somber (and properly so) note were the demonstrations protesting the “Disappeared 43.” 43 students disappeared, apparently murdered, earlier this year in the state of Guerrero, which includes the Pacific resort of Acapulco. Looks like corrupt cops and drug dealers are to blame and the people of Mexico are angry.

Events like this make you wonder what they fought so hard for in 1910.

Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”

TofuNextWeekBooNextWeek    “Meow”

Please go to my new “Links” page. There you will find some  provocative, informative and insightful blogs from my dear friends Barry and Maya Spector, fresh from a relaxing stay at the “Jesse Moore Hacienda and Hotel.”

Another Chapter and Another Chapel

Excerpt from my memoir “The Kid Who Got Away

As promised, this is the end of a story that I began in an earlier blog called “Bangkok, Bongs, Bars and Booms!” and continued in “Chapter 2 & Chapter 3” but never finished; leaving you with no way to know how “The Kid Got Away.” Set in the jungles of Vientiane, Laos, here’s Chapter 3:

As we approached the “Customs” hut, I began to feel a special kind of relief. “I just might make it out of this alive.” I reached for my passport. All the air was suddenly sucked out of my lungs and out of the night. My heart stopped. In my rush to get out of my hut I’d forgotten the one thing I had to have besides my cash and guitar: my passport.

I couldn’t think. My legs grew weak, my body numb. My brain was frozen. I had been so very close. I had to think. THINK, DAMNIT! I ordered the cabbie in my limited Laotian to slam on the breaks and turn around. He took me a little too literally. I almost went through the windshield. We headed back to what was almost certain death. THINK, DAMNIT THINK!

A quarter of a mile before we reached the compound, I told him to stop and wait for me. As I approached the guard tower, that same sweet sound of snoring greeted me again. That same smile that had lit up my face on the way out, clicked back on. I snuck slowly, ever so slowly back across the compound, grabbed my passport and headed back out towards the exit. It was then that my luck ran out.

Just as I passed the tower, I stepped on a loose piece of bamboo or something and the snoring abruptly ceased. I heard the guard grunt as he stirred back to life. It was now or never. I took off down the road. He was slow to awaken but as I looked back, I could see him stand up as I disappeared into the darkness. I knew that he and his boys would be after me in short order.

I jumped in the cab and screamed, “Move!” He did, tires screeching, dust flying, his eyes as big as rice bowls. I had never been in an actual car chase before, only played a cop in a few on TV and the movies. I was certainly in one now. Though I couldn’t see them yet, I knew they would be in a jeep and heading my way soon, if not already. Luckily, I knew where I was going. They didn’t.

There were times during that ride, swerving around corners and slower vehicle, not a seatbelt in sight, where I thought, “I’m done for.” My luck was returning. I could see the Immigration hut just up ahead and no jeep behind. We slowed down but my adrenalin was pumping and I came out of that car as if ejected by a toaster. I paid the cabbie and, for just one second, our eyes met and we chuckled. He wouldn’t soon forget this night.

I got my passport stamped and found a little fishing boat with an old guy asleep in it. I swear the outboard motor on it was the size of a softball. I told him where I was going. Getting into that boat (I use that term loosely) was as tricky as getting out of that compound alive. With the weight of two people, there was maybe a foot from the rim to the water. I grabbed the sides and held on for dear life.

The river was as black as the nighttime sky. The current was swift. The water was deep. My life was in the leathery hands of a sleepy old fisherman. If I went over, it was over.

Just like the walk down the road outside the compound, it seemed like we were in that boat forever. My fear was tempered by the relief I felt having escaped with my life. Once again, my relief was short-lived.

The water suddenly came alive all around me. I thought, “Paraná?!” That’s all I needed, the boat tipping into a river full of man-eating fish. It was then that I heard the chatter. I turned and saw them. Upriver, way off in the distance, I could see the muzzle flashes. Papasan’s hooligans had figured it out and the jig was up. I froze. There was nowhere to go. Any sudden movement could capsize the boat and dump me into the murky darkness below. So I sat there, bullets zinging by my ears, and waited as the chatter became more distant.

When my old fisherman friend dropped me off, I sat in the sandy dirt. I was never so happy to feel dry earth under my feet. I looked back at where I’d just been and saw only blackness. No more chatter. All I could hear was the river lapping on the banks and the jungle sounding off. It all came tumbling down. Sitting on a log alone in the darkness, I wept like a baby. I thought to myself, “This kind of shit isn’t supposed to be happening to me in some far off jungle. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn!”


nolatravelinman

“Goodbye” reared it’s ugly head again this week. Four sweet California buds stopped by for a week of touring around San Miguel with me. There’s lot’s to complain about when friends visit. They often break you out of your normal rhythm. You feel obligated to show them around and responsible for their safety. They want to see everything, everyday. Luckily for me, these guys were fun company, seasoned travelers, a joy to hang with. We saw some things that I had never seen, actually introducing me to places I wanted to visit but hadn’t gotten around to yet.
Top of the list of experiences with this group was our trip to the Sanctuary of Atontonilco, a World Heritage Site about 45 minutes from SMA. The outside is simple, giving no indication of what lies inside. I’m not a religious guy, but this place truly moved me.
Santuario_Atotonilco
work that adorns the main nave and chapels that took Antonio Martinez de Pocasangre about 30 years to finish. The murals led the complex to be called the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico,” attracting over 5000 people a week to the tiny town. There are statues all over depicting scenes of the Crucifiction and the lives of various saints.
Cha[el1Chapel2
Chapel3Chapel5
Chapel7Chapel6
CeilingPaintingsAtotonilco1CeilingAtotonilco2
We spent the rest of the day soaking in the nearby underground springs called, “La Gruta,” with it’s beautiful, well-kept grounds and underground caves and passages leading from warm to hotter waters.
Saying goodbye to these friends was so hard, I had to do it quickly at the bus station so they wouldn’t see the tears. Goodbye is not an easy word for me but it’s an inevitability for ever traveler.

Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”
"Meow"
“Meow”

Chapter 2 and Chapter 3

Excerpt from my memoir “The Kid Who Got Away

I began this story in an earlier blog called “Bangkok, Bongs, Bars and Booms!” but never finished; leaving you with no way to know how “The Kid Got Away.” Here’s Chapter Two:

The plan was, “I don’t have the foggiest fucking idea how I’m getting out of here.”

The compound was surrounded by a high, chain linked fence. There was a lot of barbed wire along the rim. There was only one way in or out. It was narrow; just about wide enough to fit a really small Toyota truck. Overlooking the entrance was a bamboo tower maybe eight feet off the ground. It was always manned and he was always armed.

The goal was to somehow get from my cabana, across the compound to the entrance, past the guard, down a long dirt road through the jungle to the main street, find a cab and get to the crossing point on the Mekong where there was a little hut that housed the office where you could get your passport stamped and hire a tiny fishing boat with an engine the size of a Waring blender to take you across the river to Thailand. All of this before Papasan knew I was gone.

Piece o’ cake.

It was a black night.; moonless and starless, with enough cloud cover to block out any light. I grabbed my gig bag and a backpack. I noticed a scorpion about the size of my hand in the corner of the room, tail flaccid but ready. I don’t like scorpions. Bad sign. I took a deep breath and headed out the cabana door.

The next time you hear “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and the woman sings “…In the jungle, the quiet jungle…” call bullshit. The nighttime jungle is filled with sound. Insects the size of jackfruit singing love songs, four legged creatures in the underbrush that see you as part of the food chain and, in this case, little guys in pajamas with M16s that see you as target practice. Luckily for me, the cacophony kept my footsteps relatively unnoticed as I crept towards the bamboo guard tower.

I couldn’t see a thing through the darkness but I could hear something. It was something deep and rhythmic. It was coming from the direction of the guard tower that loomed over the entrance to the compound. My mind was on fire as I imagined what that terrifying growl could be. As I tiptoed through the blackness, I expected the source to pounce, probably tearing my throat out. In a flash I realized what it was. It was the sound of the tower guard snoring away, dreaming of whatever heavily armed Laotian guards dreamt of. Though I had a long, long way to go to freedom, a smile stretched across my face.

I honed in on his snoring and it led me right to the entrance. I hugged the tower and made it onto the dirt road outside the compound. I was on that road for what seemed like forever. I couldn’t move too fast or some little guy in pjs might take a shot at me. I had to move steadily. If they caught me, my story would be a very short one. Every inch away from Papasan and his henchmen meant another step towards survival.

When I finally got to the main road, I made a beeline for the bar the CIA guys hung out at along with the war correspondents. There were always cab drivers ready to overcharge a drunk foreigner a bloated fare. I grabbed one and told him to head for TahDoo. I had a pocketful of Laotian kip adding up to about five bucks. That would be enough to pay the cabbie, bribe the official at the crossing, hire a boat to cross the Mekong, get an entrance visa on the Thai side, sleep at the bus station and get a ticket on the next chicken bus out of town. The dollar went a long way in a war zone.

As we approached the “Customs” hut, I began to feel a special kind of relief. “I just might make it out of this alive.” I reached for my passport. All the air was suddenly sucked out of my lungs and out of the night. My heart stopped. In my rush to get out of my hut I’d forgotten the one thing I had to have besides my cash and guitar: my passport.

(to be continued next week. i promise.)


nolatravelinman

I figure I’m done with the first two-thirds of my life. I’ve been calling these next years my “Third Trimester.” I intend to live life to fullest, learn as much as I can, and check off an impressive bucket-list that’s about fifteen pages.

I am happy. I walk around most of the time with a big goofy smile on my face. I am in love. More specifically, I’m in in love with life. Each day, I walk out of my little casita and look up at the sky. It is almost always strikingly blue. Usually, there’s not a cloud in the sky. Most of the time, I stroll. I power walk up the hills if I feel a need for exercise but most of the time, I just stroll. I say hello to everybody, whether they acknowledge my greeting or not. They usually do. Mainly, I think, because of the goofy smile that’s beaming out at them.

I have guests in town visiting. My dear friends of many years Barry and Maya and some friends I haven’t connected with in many years, Bob and Pam. Frida2I took off for Mexico City on Thursday.  (Mexico City always makes me think of Frida Kahlo.)

Pyramid1

 

I had a great time climbing the  ancient Pyramids of Teotihuacan, reportedly 1500+ years old.

Brunal

 

 

I met a lovely woman from Brazil whom I gave the traveling name Ojos (“Eyes”), because she has those unusually beautiful hazel eyes that are so very Brazilian. We hit it off right away and climbed and climbed.

Pyramid4

 

We visited the Basilica of the Lady of Guadalupe.

 

Pyramid5

 

 

Catholic folklore says the Virgin of Guadalupe first appeared and left her now famous imprint on a cloth.

 

 

 

Jardin

 

 

 

I’m back in San Miguel de Allende, ready to meet as many people, explore my new home and have as much fun as the law will allow…and then some.

 

Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.”
 Katz
Almost forgot: “Meow!”