Nov 11, 2007 09:00 PM Paradise in Socotra Island
Since all the travellers that we met in Socotra we were on a budget, we slept most of the nights in Qalansiya beach, a la belle etoile. For food we bought fish and lobsters to the natives for a few rials.
But… no beers! How we missed Coronitas or Leffe blondes! We only could find water
Nov 10, 2007 09:00 PM Meeting the traveller Andre Brugiroux in Socotra Island
I travelled to Socotra island, in the Indian Ocean, to celebrate the 70th birthday of French traveller André Brugiroux ( see his web page http://andre.brugiroux.free.fr/ ).
Meeting Andre was an important event to me. He travels no to have just another stamp in their passport and “collect” countries, but to get to know the countries and their people thoughtfully.
Andre has spent some 50 years of his life travelling without stopping. His first around the world journey took him 17 years! Now he knows all the countries of the world and keeps on travelling to exotic destinations such as Clipperton Island, Terre Adélie, the Geographical North Pole…
(In the picture Andre is cutting a goat. I am the one with the pullover with horizontal strips looking with anxiety to the goat because I was very hungry).
Nov 07, 2007 09:00 PM Flying to Socotra Island
There is a travellers meeting in Socotra Island that I do not want to miss.
French, Spaniards and South American travelers will join to celebrate the 70th birthday of French backpacker Andre Brugiroux.
Nov 02, 2007 09:00 PM Il Vaticano
I was coming back home in my dear Spain from Transcaucasia overland by buses, boats and hitchhiking (Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno Karabakh and Nakhicevan), and owing to a problem in Adjaria (I was literally robbed 2000 euro by the Georgian judges) I was left with a few kopecks in my pocket. Fortunately it was Ramadan times and, after sunset, the muslim restaurants invited everybody to eat without coercion everything that you wanted, for free. It was my only daily meal, so I ate as much as I could.
Reaching Vatican I slept 3 nights in Piazza di San Pietro because of the 194 countries of the United Nations, in only two of them I had never spent at least one night: Liechtenstein and Vatican, and I felt that if you do not sleep at least one night in a country, you have not visited it.
During the nights, three times I was offered food. First by young girls who woke me up while sleeping on the floor, inside my sleeping bag, between the columns, and offering me fruits, said to me:
- Molto fredo. Questo buono, molti vitamini.
Half an hour later, members of the Red Cross and the Order of Malta, came to wake me up again offering me hot tea and sandwiches.
The black immigrants, those who were selling souvenirs in Piazza San Pietro during the day with their blankets on the floor, slept under the Tiber River bridges, with music and fun. But the European origin homeless, we preferred to sleep in the Piazza di San Pietro. There were Polish, Albanians, Rumanians, and only one Spaniard (me).
I happened to arrive to Vatican for the beatification of 498 monks and sisters that had been cruelly assassinated from 1934 to 1937, the sisters after having been violated by the Communists, the Anarchists, the Separatists, the Terrorists, and in general, by all the so called Republicans (before and during our Civil War, the self called “Republicans” killed about 8000 monks and sisters and burned almost all the churches in Spain after having pilfered all the valuables inside).
I saw the new Pope, Benedict XVI during the Mass service (see the picture). I had already seen John Paul II in Lourdes a few years ago.
Now I have only one place out of the 194 United Nations countries, where I have not yet slept, in order to count it as visited: Liechtenstein. Soon I will do it!
Oct 27, 2007 06:00 PM The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian in Patmos Island
In my way overland from Transcaucasia to Barcelona, in my dear Spain, I navigated through several Greek islands, which is much more pleasant (and cheaper) than taking the tiring bus from Istanbul to Athens. Furthermore, the boat tickets are so inexpensive that you will save a lot of money in hotels, sleeping in the boat, since they sail at night and arrive at their destination early next morning (of course, provided that you buy the seat ticket, the cheapest).
I stopped in several islands of the Dodecanese archipelago where I had not yet been in the past (I only had been in Rhodes some years earlier).
Some travellers, during their journeys, like to visit beaches, some others prefer museums, national parks, markets, waterfalls, make trekkings…. I always give preference to the religious places, of any faith. That is why going to Patmos Island was a pilgrimage for me.
From Kusadasi I navigated to Samos and then to Patmos, my first goal in my way back home. I stayed there two days in order to visit two unique UNESCO places: the Cave of the Apocalypses and the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, founded in the XI century by Christodoulos, a monk coming from Asia Minor. It looks like a castle and, indeed, that construction was useful for protection against pirates.
I happened to arrive there during the celebration of the monastery foundation by Christodoulos, with ceremonies and lots of food and drinks for free, what I greatly appreciated since I had no much money in my pockets. The monks even allowed me to take some food with me for my dinner.
In both historical places you will find shops selling religious objects, postcards and books, like The Book of Revelation (Apokalypsis), for instance.
Both places are at a walking distance from Skala, the port of Patmos Island, but it will take about 60 minutes walking up the hill (30 minutes if you are a good trekker). There are also buses, but if you hitchhike the first car will stop and will give you a ride. The way down is easier and I recommend you to take the lovely path through the forest.
Up there, besides the monastery, there is an enchanting town called Chora, with narrow streets. There you will find two restaurants offering food and drinks, in case that you do not happen to visit Patmos during Christodoulos celebration.
Sep 30, 2007 06:00 PM Transcaucasia
When my Russian visa was close to an end I took a cheap train from Moscow to Sochi and then travelled overland, by trucks and on foot, through the Mountains around the Elbrus Peak, to remote, bellicose and dangerous new countries in Transcaucasia. I experienced lots of unusual adventures and tribulations:
- Abkhazia was easy, but I had to pay for that visit to the corrupted Georgian judges to buy them a fictitious trial. I had to buy my freedom through a “negotiator” after spending 72 hours in a inhumane jail in Batumi, without food, for having penetrated in the Independent Republic of Abkhazia (that they still consider Georgian territory).
- Getting into South Ossetia, from Gori, was risky, but I was lucky in the United Nations controls, camouflaged among legions of women selling apples, and I was not noticed until the last Russian control, well inside South Ossetia territory. There, a nice Russian captain listened to me and fulfilled my traveller wish to visit a new country. He even took me in his car around the capital Tskhinvali, like a guide, showing me all the tourist attractions! I will never forget him. Needless to say that alone, with Russian soldiers’ controls in every corner, I would have never been able to visit that new country.
- Nagorno Karabakh was temerity, but I nevertheless reached the front line of fire with some Armenian guerrilleros who assisted me in Stepanakert, the capital of Republic of Mountainous Karabakh (Nagorno Karabakh) to get to the historical Monastery of Gandzasar, near the front line of war with Azerbaijan, since I had not the correspondent permits to move around those off limits places to the curious and bold traveler.
- Nakhichevan, in theory, was easy, but since I had been in Nagorno Karabakh I had to change my passport. But finally, after several nuisances that I solved, could visit some very interesting places in Nakhichevan during Ramadan times.
Sep 05, 2007 06:00 PM She is a girl! Lovely girl!
Masha is the name of my daughter. I love her (and to her mother too). She is the prettiest girl in the world!
And I am the happiest man in the world!
She was 3.1 kilos.
We live now in Moscow. I will stop travelling for a while.
Do svidania rebiata!
Jul 16, 2007 06:00 PM South Africa. Once more in jail...
Because my ticket back to Spain from South Africa was expired (by only 2 days) when I returned to Cape Town after one month journey to Tristan da Cunha island, the South African immigration oficials did not allow me to leave the ship during 3 days and 2 nights. I was confined in the ship whithout any right. They forced me to sign the document I am showing stating that I was un undesirable person...! otherwise, instead of sleeping in my boat, without permission to leave it, I would sleep in the Immigration jail.
The officals are rude, Holland origin, they did not want to give me their names. I imagine that they must have done a good job during Apartheid times.
Now there is Cultural Apartheid in South Africa because the whites do not want the blacks and colours (Indonesian people brought as slaves to South Africa by the Dutch) improve their education. Whites are still the owners of the country... but nobody likes them, because blacks and colours consider that the whites are undesirables....
Well, I have to leave the country within a few days, I have been deported.
Paraguay, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Chad, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, South Africa... and a few more countries that I do not want to remember, have banned my entry.
The Spanish Consulate in Cape Town has helped me a lot during these days, and avoided me to pay 19.000 rands for a back ticket to Spain, while the normal price is about 5.000 rands. I will never be able to visit South Africa again...
They do not allow me to continue my journey overland, via Zimbabwe, because the almost civil war situation in that country.
I do not know yet my new destination.
But I am free!
Apr 09, 2007 06:00 PM The forgotten true travelers
During my journeys I have met many forgotten travellers, true travellers, no pleasure “travellers” or nonsense tourists.
These were not merchants, nor dervishes or pilgrims, but people travelling for Nature reasons.
Observe the picture besides. I am with a young native of Ghana in the only well in Bir Lehlu beginning April 2007. He narrated me his long exploit along Africa. He travelled during two years to get to Morocco, through the Sahara desert, on foot and on occasional trucks, without money, working along the way and eating minimal food, suffering cruel treatment in some borders by the military officers (for women the treatment is still worst, as you can imagine). In Tangier he was brutally deported and forced to cross on foot the infamous 2000 kilometres long wall (surrounded by 5 millions antipersonnel mines) from the Moroccan occupied Western Sahara to the portion of the RASD (Republic Arab Sahrawi Democratic) liberated and controlled by the POLISARIO. He was there in that No Man’s Land waiting for 18 months so far, and surviving thanks to the generosity of the United Nations bases.
I met other travellers like him in the past in the border between Darfur (Sudan) and Chad. I remember some Nigerians who gave me lessons about the purpose of life, people who become wiser after going through many hardships during their travels to Eritrea trying to jump, in vain, to Saudi Arabia, or from Algeria to Libya or Italy.
The same can be said of the “Espaldas Mojadas” who try to enter USA, a part of their planet.
These are real travellers, people who travel not for the purpose to learn, but to improve their existence, reasons for which the Humankind has travelled since the long past times.
These people are close to Mother Nature and deserve high respect.
Believe me; I felt shame when I was among these brave people, these true travellers.
Apr 08, 2007 06:00 PM One week in the Sahrawi Republic
This is the visa that I got in my passport from the authorities of RASD (Republic Arab Sahrawi Democratic), or the country found beyond the cruel wall (over 2000 kilometres long surrounded by 5 millions antipersonnel mines and defended by 110.000 invaders Moroccan soldiers). It is very hard to get to RASD, country controlled by the POLISARIO; very few travellers in the world can really claim to have visited this country, much different than the occupied zone by Morocco. Most of the Sahrawi Republic citizens live now in the encampments near Tindouf, Algeria.
There are five United Nations bases within the liberated RASD territory, and three under the Moroccan invaded territory, in the other side of the infamous wall.
Moroccan militaries killed thousands of civilians, women and children mainly, spreading napalm with their airplanes.
RASD is recognized by most African nations, several Spanish speaking countries such as Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, etc., plus India.
European countries prefer to support Moroccan invasion in exchange of economical sales of their products, as is the case of France, or to sell weapons, as does USA and other European countries, or permission to fish in Moroccan waters, as is the shameful case of my own country Spain, giving thus the back to a territory that was our 53rd province and where the people still speak Spanish as the second language.
But Sahrawi people are surviving in the middle of the desert, free, proudly refusing to live subjugated under Moroccan dominion.
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