Hello friends and fellow-travelers,
This is it. All that remains is a few days, 19 hours of flying, and an overnight in Dublin. Oh, and adding photos to the last three segments. I hope you've enjoyed the trip.
Before I finish, I have a request. I havenºt heard from many of you and would like some feedback. I know from data that the website gathers that youºre reading the postings but I'd appreciate some more information. Please let me know what you like, what you donºt like, and please let me know if you want to be removed from the list. Life is hectic enough with my adding spam to your inbox.
Morocco ended very well. Heading North I returned to Fez al Bali where I had visited briefly in 1978. Great chili in the medina (truly!), the tanneries, and dealing with the hassle of people trying to get you to buy things you donºt want. Took a side trip to Meknes and the old Roman ruins at Volubilis. The olive orchards that the Romans planted are still there.
I did return to Casablanca - Rick's Cafe Americaine lived up to its reputation. All the usual suspects were there. Great food (Don't miss Rick's Steak Sauce or the goat cheese and figs or the prawns, papayas, and avocado salad or Rick's awesome cheesecake or the outstanding BROWNIE with vanilla ice cream!!!!!) and unbelievable atmosphere. Probably the best restaurant experience of my life. If you ever get within a thousand miles of this place you need to go. Make sure you have reservations. And grab the little table for two just next to the piano. When 'Sam' plays As Time Goes By, it is magic. Check out Kathy's great web-site (google Rick's Cafe, Casablanca).
Moving on . . . One of Rickºs famous lines is "Of all the gin joints ...".
I've hit my number of 'gin joints' on this trip. Or, at least the equivalent - overpriced hotels, rooms with no view, screaming idiots in the street at 2am, the concept of beer as a soft drink, polluted skies and water, Soviet art, rapacious taxi-drivers, untiring touts, hustlers, food so bad I've actually downed a McDonald's or two, INSANE drivers, and merely dangerous ones, smells, abandonned villages and children's playgrounds, pot holes, trash, and dozens of great heritage sites that were 'Closed for Restoration'!. It's almost enough to make me want to put down roots.
So - where am I now? Here I'm the most relaxed I've been all trip. And healthy. Although Iºm running out of things to read and paperbacks for $19 are ridiculous. My final two destinations have been wonderful - relaxed island havens far off the beaten track with scarcely enough tourists to disturb the tranquility or generate excessive greed in the populace. Here I actually arrived at the airport to find a free bus to take me to my $40 apartment just off the beach. Here tropical plants abound, but the climate is more temperate. Here you can get a decent cup of joe, a passable cone of gelato, and probably the best scabbardfish filet I've ever had. Oh, and here the scabbardfish comes with a side of bananas sauteed i the famous sweet island wine. Yummy!
Here sparkling holiday decorations spread up the volcanic slopes from the marina where a yacht once owned by the Beatles lies at anchor as a floating restaurant. Here history goes back over five hundred years. And here you can enjoy it without fear of your life. The traffic is sedate and you can walk the streets without fear. (Don't worry, Cordelia, the zone of awareness is always maintained!). Last night the special treat here was a concert by the local Mandolin Ensemble. Tonight there's the Beethoven Fourth at the Casino or a Big Band concert on a nearby square.
So - for one last night I'll walk the cobblestone streets and be grateful for Here. After all those 'gin joints', all those weeks of scrambling to think of something interesting to say about unpronouncable places most people couldn't even find on a map, I end up Here. Perfect. Three continents, and Iºm not on any of them.
This has been quite a trip. Canºt say that much of it was planned. Maybe that's what I've learned this time.
The photos will be up soon.