Philosophy, Travel

Let’s Wait and See

This time I am far, far gone — way out. Busses, taxis, and shuttles could barely reach me to snatch me back from the void, if just to turn around and thrust me back into reality. 

Past the mountains, through windy highways; just me and the coastline to my left, desert to my right. 

Final destination? 

Kum Kum: a secluded beach bungalow on the Red Sea's shoreline. The places along the water are usually run by Bedouins, a nomadic people of the Middle Eastern deserts. These are people who thrive on providing hospitality to any visitor that may come their way.

The Egyptian flags swaying with every passing gust, an occasional clunking of gears being shifted on a commercial truck, Saudi Arabia slowly moving into focus across the waterway.

Peace and serenity. 

Those awakened ideals can be found here; right here, in the middle of the world. 

Right where it all began.

All is not well in this part of the world, and nor has it ever been. There are still many issues troubling northern African countries and their surrounding neighbors: war, famine, poverty, disease, Sally Struthers. 

This is still — technically speaking — the Middle East.

But for that brief moment in time, as I looked out at the Red Sea with a cool Arab breeze sweeping through my scruffy blonde hair, the world felt alright. A place that I had never dreamt of until now had opened a spot for me. And come what may, I was in the continent of Africa; sitting on a beach located in the southern Sinai Peninsula; in Egypt.

And can I just say that the days seem long but all so much more vibrant with life. 

Time just moves on a much slower liner scale here. Everything, for that matter, moves a little more slowly. 

Once you get by the basic shock of being in physical and emotional paradise. Well, you start to see the world as a different place. 

I would not advise to visit this land if you are the more naive and ignorant westerner: There is Arabic spoken, the people here do adhere to Muslim standards, and there will be those crazy, yet enchanting, songs on the loud speaker.

My rambling seems to have went on a little longer than usual… What's in this tea? That couldn't have been tobacco in that paper I inhaled. And, shit! Why is the rum gone? 

It's all ok, Logan. Just look at the stars. Look at all of them. 

And, boy. I have never seen a more eloquently beautiful sight. It is like I could pick a twinkling star from the sky like a tomato, fresh off the vine.

This is the Middle East and it's not. it's a lusciously seductive taste of culture that will, for the most part, Leave you blissfully blown away. 

***************************************

The above was written days before I would learn of the horrid attack on a bus of Egyptian Coptic Christians in the city of Cairo. 

The above was selfishly written far from the evil that the world seems to have to endure almost daily.

Egypt, and specially, the people on the Sinai Peninsula, welcomed me into their homeland with open arms. 

The driver that had taken me to my little seaside getaway waited for me at the border when I was leaving (he was late so his brother picked me up). He waited for me and my travel partner to bid us farewell. 

This was about an hour before I would first hear of the tragedy that had fallen on Egypt. The last words this man told me as I stepped across the border were, "this is your home now". 

A piece of my heart will always reside in Egypt, and for now, the rest of my heart is with them as well. 

Maybe not all is good in the world. 

Bad things happen to good people daily. 

What is the right mindset to have? Do we respond to violence and pure evil with compassion and peace or more violence and anger?

I really don't know anymore; but I hope for the sake of the world that we figure out the answer soon.

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Travel

The Last Sandwich You’ll Ever Need

Shawarma, 

you might know the name. You may have even eaten one or two in the states during a bout in a big city such as New York. But I'll tell you, you have not lived until you have wrapped your lips around one of these puppies in Israel. 

It could possibly be, hands down, one of the best meals of my life. 

Anyone selling things under the same name in the states should be taken behind the shed and physically assaulted for hours. 

While exploring the port city of Jaffa, Israel, I had the opportunity, no! I had the privilege of chowing down on this delectable gift from the culinary gods. 

For those savages that are so out of the loop and don't know what a shawarma consists of. Well, I should make you google it; but I assume I will be generous enough to explain the inner workings of these incredible works of gastronomic art.

First a meat, whether it be chicken, lamb, turkey, veal… You get the point. 

The meats are roasted on a spit for as long as a day. 

Then, some heavenly man that has just ascended from the sky, he shaves that roasted goodness right off. 

The one meat, or mixture is shoved into a pita, but first come the fixings. 

Now this is where things may tend to change depending on where you get your shawarma from. The essentials usually consist of toum (a middle eastern garlic sauce), tahini (basically sesame seed butter), hummus, pickled turnips, and amba (a pickled mango sauce). Throw in some chopped vegetables and there you have it. 

Shit, this isn't a cooking show. So I'm not giving you any recipes or techniques but the meat is marinated, the vegetables are chopped or pickled, and if you don't know what hummus is I think you should stop reading here and go cry in a corner. Why am I so aggressively describing this extremely delicious dish? 

Because, man. 

Just… Because.

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Travel

She’s Much Like the Sea

The moment I set my eyes upon her I knew it was true. 

Everything that I had ever heard was wrong. Within a split second I had fallen deeply in love. Her smell, her delicately crafted aesthetics, her absolutely entrancing personality. 

I've only seen the Mediterranean Sea twice thus far in my life. But hell, you know love at first sight; because, well, you just know. 

After a long walk through the empty streets of Tel Aviv to clear my head there she was just waiting for me to return. A lot has been on my mind as of late. A lot of things that don't necessarily matter or are so insignificant, time shouldn't be wasted on such frivolous thoughts. Yet there I was, a head full of shit, walking. Walking to try and get back to her. The water always calms me and I knew there was only one cure for my unfortunate blues. 

The sidewalks were unoccupied for most of the walk due to Shabbat. I was a man left to his own devices. A lone wolf.

We all set out on these voyages to get to where we think we will find pure joy or true success and I have to say that it is a blissful feeling. The feeling of having a dream in your head and then, before you know it, there it is. 

You might ask, "Logan, why are you being so philosophical about a walk to a beach"?

To that I say this, "All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking," that is Nietzsche. The man knew his shit. And I too, now, know my shit. I know you can not replicate the moment the buildings clear, the sidewalk ends, and she is right there to greet you. Like an old lover who you once knew so closely. For now, I'll take the sea. The tides are relatable these days — constantly in motion. The sea shares an unbreakable relationship with the moon as it waxes and wanes. They are both continuously in flux. 

Coming and going as they please.

So give me the sea because it is so much like me. 

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Philosophy, Travel

Fly Me to the Moon

If Tom Hanks would have been stuck in a Swedish airport in the movie “terminal” things might have been different for him. No crackers and ketchup for me. No authoritarian type security guards. More like salami sandwiches with Brie and pesto, Swedish beer, perhaps even a dirty glass full of Jamison to wash it all down.

After a split second observation I realized that there were no rooms in the airport hotels, surrounding hotels (for under 200USD), or hostels. I guess some old screamo band named underoath was in town to play a show, who knew?

Needing to be up at 4am to catch a flight this could pose a dilema. I just throw caution to the wind at this point.

Quickly I find a magical establishment called Rest&Fly, yet, no beds for the night. I spend 60usd for a day bed at hour rates. It’s fast, easy, and cheap (please don’t take your mind there). Here is your money, give me my bedroom, and there better be a lady of the night that comes in my room for that price. Hell, I’ll settle for a pillow mint on my budget these days…. seems like my mind went there for you after all.

My life has become, by my own hands, a series of endless airports, makeshift sleeping quarters, and dark runways.

These days I crave the madness that envelops me from this. It wraps me like a warm hug and I have gone utterly and hopelessly mad. Part Dr. Jekyll, part Mr. Hyde. I awoke a dormant beast years ago and that beast craves this lifestyle. Each trip I get further lost into that person; almost as if I don’t know who the old one was.

Nineteen hour layovers, sleeping on airport benches, while the world closes around you. It’s like you are living in an old west ghost town right before dusk. It is the old west, no rules. I can chug a beer and a Jamison, eat a little grub, then do whatever I want. This happened to be me finding a nice quiet corner to nest in.

The lifestyle is not for everyone. It is not all sunshine and rainbows.

I’ll be sure to send some postcards from my next extended stay in a lonely airport.

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Philosophy, Travel

Leaving on a Jet Plane

For anyone that knows me they know two things. I love to leave to far off places but I hate flying.

Something about all the people crammed into a sardine can hurling through the sky gives me flashbacks from times at Warped Tours or any other jam packed music festival. I cannot nail it on the head exactly the moment I lose my cool and just start to have a “bad trip, man”. At that point it takes a lot of libations to get that unruly edge off. 

And If you are like me and love to travel yet also aren’t fond of flying; I’d try a nice little medical cocktail. Getting a prescription for Valium or Xanax can take you from warm and clammy while on the tip of your already small chair, to not caring if that giant piece of science drops into the Atlantic. 

Of course you can try breathing exercises and zen out like a Buddhist monk but where is the rush in that. I’ll just be that guy crushing up my happy pills and spreading them on my luke warm spaghetti bolognese like it is freaking freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

But a plethora of emotions and thoughts have been flooding my mind lately. So this flight may be the longest nine hour self reflection ever — cue the meditation bowl sounds. 

Some such thoughts are as follows:

What is it that turns a person into an expat? At what point do I sail off into the sunset and never return? 

I was at a crossroads with myself and traveling. And recently on a trip to Boston, in between a few beers, I had a conversation with a friend. The topic was love and soulmates. At the time I discussed how I don’t believe in the two words or the ideology behind them. Love, at least to me, is a fleeting feeling — an emotion. 

I guess the truth of the matter is I do believe (not in a love or destiny with a specific man or woman). I believe in the kind of love as the first sip of whiskey gives after a hard day. So much so that it sends chills down your spine. I believe that love exists in the smell of fresh cut grass, the shining of stars, along with a laundry list of other sensory experiences. I wholeheartedly consider love to be a journey and not a destination. Something increasingly unattainable but always within reach. Love is when you can look back on all those adventures and say, “fuck, I did it. And I loved every moment of it”.

Because, at least in my humble opinion, there is no better feeling than looking out a plane window and seeing the sky turn bright over the horizon. This is what I long for, no matter the trials and tribulations. I’d like to believe that I owe this all to my mother. She created me to be an explorer. Always telling me to go out and find the world I live in. I would not be the man, creative, writer or person without her. And to that I will tell you all, along with her… 

Never stop chasing the sun, never stop seeking happiness, and most importantly, go out and make the best of every moment in life. We only have one go at this thing; so be joyful in all that you do. 

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Travel

Now boarding…

This was supposed to be a post about Boston. It was supposed to be sunny. I wasn’t supposed to be stuck in New York’s Laguardia airport for more than eight hours. Hell, I was supposed to be at my destination about five whiskies ago but here I am. 

Lady liberty has an inscription that says something about giving her the hurdled masses. Well, she ought not to look further than one of New York’s airports on a day with crappy weather for that. 

Even with my rant filled attitude I have to admit that a person can learn a thing or two about a full day of nightmarish plane flights. It teaches you to look at the good in every situation, to try and keep your blood pressure from causing your heart to burst at the seams, and oh yeah, it teaches about the importance of alcohol as a well rounded travel nutrition.

Remember kids, having bourbon before noon isn’t for the faint of heart and always mix it with emergen-c to rid off those pesky airplane viruses that everyone tends to share. 

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Food, Philosophy, Travel

Dear Diary

“But these days I feel more at home in a foreign land, wandering, with no direction in sight. Every little thing is new and exciting. Is it real life? Can someone perpetually be in motion? Is it human nature to plant roots in a certain place or can some of us coast freely, drifting throughout this vast world? Either way, I plan to find out. Because if it were not for adventure I would not be who I am, a vagabond.”

 

A stream of thought that floods my consciousness every time I arrive back stateside. And I cannot help but to dwell on the memories that were once present time experiences.

 

Did I appreciate them in the moment?

 

Probably.

 

If those occurrences involved food, then definitely.

 

While recently away I embedded with a Non Governmental Organization doing all sorts of photo work. This work mainly involved going out with members of the NGO to explore projects in rural villages outside on the San Martin municipality. Rural is not an understatement, some of these villages lack amenities we Americans take for granted. Every thing from running drinking water (that flows to the houses and schools), stoves that don’t require wood and fire, and even something as simple as electricity.

 

Despite the lack of basic necessities there’s pure joy and respect that the Maya people radiate and that positivity is simply inspiring.

 

A day’s work would start with a long ride out to the hillsides of Guatemala— far past paved (or safe) roadways. Many people hitchhike and are seen roadside or in the back of low riding pickup trucks, and I don’t just mean locals. I might know some certain Canadians who took, what I like to call, the anxiety highway.

 

After getting to the villages The NGO members and myself would check up on how projects are going and talk to families about everything from the projects themselves to everyday life. Me, speaking very little Spanish, would stand in observation; but often I would become the center of attention. Breaking in to Spanglish, I would try my best to navigate through a basic greeting. In such instances I was met with plenty of laughter and finger pointing. The emotions being thrown around in such contexts were playfully innocent.

 

Yet, it wasn’t until the work was all finished up that my school-kid-glee really commenced. As per what seemed like a customary procedure for welcoming guests into the villages, the women would begin to prepare lunch. Smoke flowed out of the small metal roof vents and mixed with the slightly cool Guatemalan breeze, the kitchen was alive. The petite Maya ladies would slap dough onto their hands; press with two fingers in somewhat of a circular motion, all while spinning the ball of corn dough. There was chicken stock simmering on the stove.

 

The sounds of cutting, scooping and the shuffling of feet are all one can hear. The smell was something dazzlingly intoxicating. Next thing I knew, there was a spread of food presented in front of me.

 

The dishes consisted of sopa de pollo— a sort of chicken stock that can come with or without rice. An assortment of fresh vegetables, that would most likely cost an arm in a leg back home in the states. Vegetables that just so happened to be grown in the same yard that I am butchering the Spanish language in and exactly where the chicken called home earlier in the morning. But wait a minute! I thought I knew what those charming womenfolk were up to! Are those, why yes, homemade and still hot corn tortillas.

 

The cuisine, the preparation, the thoughtful and respectful manners exuded by these wonderful people would be hard to recreate even in the finest of multiple starred restaurants.

 

As for my customs? I dug straight in and left nothing in my wake.

 

Tearing flesh from bone like a primitive beast, using only a corn tortilla to wipe my face and beard; the women watched in amusement as the crazy fuzzy man snatched the carefully constructed fare. I would seldom look up, only to see smiles along with cellphones, snapping photographs of me while a chicken bone protruded from my mouth.

 

Hopefully the photos will be put to good use.

 

food.jpg

 

 

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