Archive for travel

Insomnia, a curse but it sure gives you time to do useless stuff.

Posted in Makin' moves, Waxing Idiotic with tags , , , , on April 10, 2014 by robdc

Life is a funny thing. When you’re young you are completely self involved. You only understand the world as it relates to you. Every mishap, every toy you don’t get is a fucking tragedy. I remember being a kid and praying (yes that’s how twisted years of catholic school were that I thought god might help me get a toy I wanted. He was a magical man in the sky, after all, if he couldn’t get the boss toys, what hope was there?!) for a nerf gun. That may sound dumb and it absolutely was but it’s what tiny me wanted.

Over time, you live your single scratch off ticket of a life and hopefully you grow a bit. In that growing, if you’ve got a combo of decent people giving you good advise and a royal shitload of luck, you start to realize that the world as we know it and the “people” living on it are a mathematical one in a novemoctogingillion shot, and you start becoming better at living in it. When you take into consideration the age of this rock, then the universe, things like how humans can really  only exist in a very specific range of atmospheric conditions and temperatures, then you consider the teeny amount of other giant space rocks hurtling through our known universe that we could possibly survive on, it starts to set in. Then you realize that you don’t get to come back if an anvil falls on you or a coyote with skates on and a rocket strapped to it’s back mistakes you for a roadrunner.

That all being said, I’ve come to love a much larger number of people than I ever thought possible on this wet spaceship of solar traverse that we’re all riding and that brings a special warmth to my heart. In my reflections, I realized that my attempts at moving around have been almost feeble if my goal is to truly get to know our shared home. This map made me proud when I first set eyes on it.


It covers most of the cities I’ve been to, from what I can remember at the moment. But, once I did the math, if you add up the areas of the cities I visited (I am hardly claiming that I’ve seen even large portions of the cities I’ve been to but it’s the only stat that’s easily uncovered and compiled at this mental state and impending exhaustion) it only adds up to %10 of the non liquid or iced over surface of our great planet.

Challenge accepted.

Time to go do more stuff and see more junk, and especially to meet and interact with some more amazing people.

Ostia Tio, Joder!

Posted in Makin' moves with tags , , , , on February 24, 2014 by robdc

Madrid has brought on an interesting set of feelings. I’ve been here before for long periods of time and have always just enjoyed the general demeanor of this city and Spain in general, so arriving here felt less like a new foreign place and more, the feeling when I merge onto I-95 on the final leg of the drive into Miami. Accept without the “ugh” feeling of having to activate the turret guns on my car. I spent the first couple of days wandering around and taking care of some of the things I came here for. Finding my grandmother’s birth records is proving more difficult than I had imagined. Other than that, things have been going very well and this city has succeeded in making me feel very much at home.

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I finally linked up with my cousin Adolfo on Friday. We had a couple of drinks and caught up in Sol then we went out to where he lives outside of Madrid proper. He’s in dental school and it’s pretty clear that all the students live in this town around the college. They had this racket going at this one club where everyone pays to get in and your ticket in gets you one drink and a very convenient bus ride to another bar across town. Apparently everyone does it because the bar cleared out after, what I imagine is the time it takes to consume one free drink. But it was pretty clear to me that this guy (or lady, or some consortium) owns 2 bars and happened to own a bus to conveniently milk the students of any spare cash they may have, so we refrained from the bus ride. We went to a couple of house parties where it quickly became clear that wearing camo pants and having the pretty advanced beard that I’m rocking these days, made the first assumption anyone had about me pretty clear: I’m an aspiring dictator. Thank god I speak the language and am able to explain to people that I am merely a humble traveler who happens to have a large beard and have on this particular pair of pants. We got along just great after that. I honestly don’t blame them, exhibit A:


There was a political demonstration of some sort going on which is not exactly rare, especially with the situations in Venezuela and Kiev right now, but I decided to get in close and see what all the commotion was about. The person on the bullhorn was being less than, well, politically correct. Then he passed the mic to a nice looking old lady who promptly shouted into the thing that she shits on the mother’s head of Coca Cola’s CEO. Accept that it obviously doesn’t translate right, she used a far worse word than ‘shit’, it’s a Spanish word that I can only approximate as “shit violently and vulgarly.” Apparently they’re closing the Coke factory here.

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I spend some time clocking a Traveler (Gypsy, Romani, Tinker, whatever the moniker is where you are. Traveler is the accepted term in Ireland, the land where I’ve dealt the most with them, so that’s what I’ll stick to) in the park to really see what was going on. Begging and panhandling is either not against the law in Europe or no one cares. People will come into restaurants and try to sell you flowers or trinkets and the restaurant or bar owners don’t seem to have any problem with it. So I’m watching this woman, whom I avoided, expertly, on my way into the park and saw that she was “giving” some plant to passers by. You learn quickly not to accept anything like that while over here but I wanted to see what went down if someone did, not that I was too surprised. I passed her by and took off down the park, found a nice spot and ordered a scotch. 15 minutes later guess who takes up shop right in the walk way in front of my sitting spot? Yup, this lady was all over the park.

So now I have a vantage point and am not in a hurry. I’ve always wondered how much there really is to be made doing this sort of thing, especially while in Europe since so many people are spending their days and nights participating in similar endeavors. Let the science begin!

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So here’s the game: This lady offers you some rosemary (my cousin solved that mystery) and if you’re dumb enough to accept, you are now in her web. She does a quick assessment of how much of a boob you are then chooses her tactic. I couldn’t get my camera up for the first couple of guys that got hit. They were proper marks, rolling bags in tow, on their way to or from the airport. She didn’t even bother with a dance. She shoved the fig in the dudes hand then immediately holds hers out. He reaches in his pocket and grabs a coin which she snatches out of his hand then she grabbed his wrist and jammed his hand back in his own pocket while still extending the other hand in the international sign of “pay the fuck up.” He gave her another coin… The next marks were less obvious so after the first payment she read the woman’s palm and said some Traveler blessing then kindly asked for more money while calling the woman pretty and the man handsome. I had the pleasure of this live sitcom for approximately half an hour, in which time this woman got at least 6 coins and 2 bills. Making her take by the hour at very least €26 and a practical high of €54 an hour!!!!! What?! €54 euro an hour?! That is a serious amount of cash! I guess I know now that it can be a pretty profitable occupation, more so than working at any fast food place (or doing IT for UF…{sorry boss, but it’s true, that’s $148,000 a year with two weeks unpaid vacation})

A couple more shots of Madrid for good measure…

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Ok, that’s enough for now. I gotta grab some dinner.



On spatial situation, travel as therapy

Posted in Makin' moves with tags , , , on February 19, 2014 by robdc

I’m sitting in Parque del Retiro, having a drink and taking in the day.


An accordion plays “summertime” across the way. My thoughts briefly dart to that song’s origins as a spiritual, Billie Holiday’s version plays in my head. I drift again and start to put real thought into why spatial situation is so conducive to my mental and spiritual health. Relativity scenarios start overlapping: You sit on a plane and are bored because to you, you aren’t moving while, if you told a person 200 years ago that you were sitting in a metal tube, several thousand feet above the ground, moving at a few hundred miles per hour with very little concern about the things going on, their head might explode. Sitting on a beach vs sitting in a prison cell, there are obvious advantages to one but if you’re happy inside your own head, closing your eyes in either would get you to the same mental place, or so one would think. The issue is, people are only so good at actively dulling the senses and tuning out the world around them, no matter how happy you are, only the greatest meditative minds can truly exclude the senses and retreat into themselves. Since I am no Zen master, and have a tough time tuning out the outside world while actually trying to meditate, I travel. I know it’s cheating, rather than concentrating or willing the input to one of my senses, I put it in the place it would like to be. I want to feel sand and water, I go to a beach. This is obviously not always possible and sometimes takes weeks or months to organize but for a humble mind that is incapable of proper mediation, it’s the best I’ve got.

Enough of the thought spiral I found myself in earlier, lets see where I’ve been running around the past couple of days. I have missed Madrid and can’t believe that it’s been 8 years since I was last here.

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Breakfast of “broken eggs” fueled a very pleasant walk through the city where I promptly got lost. I kept in a general direction until I found the park. The lazy pace of the day led to an ability to conduct some experiments as far as how much natural light is too much. Some examples:

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I, personally, prefer the shadowy images, but that’s just me. Anywho, I did some more running around and found the deeper parts of this truly enormous park which held some hidden jewels such as the “Crystal palace.”

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IMG_6802_tonemappedTomorrow I’ll head towards the center of town and check out Plaza Mayor but for now I’ll just just hope that I rise up singing.



A quick taste of Belgium

Posted in Makin' moves with tags , , , on February 17, 2014 by robdc

Thanks to Pedro and Kerry I found myself in Brussels today and got to run around the city getting lost and taking shots of many types. The main city center is breathtaking and the spire shooting up from it serves as a great waypoint when navigating about the place.

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We went out on the town the night I arrived and I am not ashamed to admit that I had a more than moderate hangover to nurse on my first day waking up in Belgium. The phone rang, I answered it, and back up I was, meeting Pedro and Kerry in the bar of my hotel, the marvelously decadent (please read in hedonism-bot’s voice) Royal Windsor which I booked completely by accident. As far as mistakes go, though, this was an incredibly pleasant one.

IMG_6737  A small dose of some hair of the dog and back out on the town we were. Sure there were plenty of things we could have done with this day, go to Bruges or Ghent, see a museum, visit the FN factory at Herstal… did we do any of these? No… God no. Of course not.  We found the nearest and best purveyor of finely prepared animal parts and fermented spirits and began the party! A not so carefully planned day of getting lost in Brussels while zig-zagging through bars and restaurants followed, I kept my lens cap off and tried to capture as much as I could while not letting the camera become a hindrance.

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Brussels is huge on art and. thank god, it spills onto the streets. There are a bunch of insanely talented artists flexing their muscle around the city and even some internationally famous names have pieces displayed around town.

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Space invader even had some work up:


After many drinks and tons of walking and at least two meals, we thought we were thoroughly lost and quite far away from where we started, but like most things in life, we were wrong. A five minute walk found us right back at the spire at around 2 in the morning, it was Sunday night and nothing was open. We had been kicked out of 2 bars already. It was time to turn in.

Taking the road less traveled by and diverting my path to see Pedro and Kerry in Brussels was one of the best decisions I’ve made in quite some time. Thanks for the laughs, I’ll catch you on the next one.



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