How Reg Lost his Arm

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I’m sitting on the red-eye from New York back to Europe. The beautiful Singaporean stewardess is serving me reasonable pinot and the food was Thai curry. The plane is a superjumbo and for the first time in months I have the opportunity and inclination to write. As everyone sleeps and we chase to morning in Europe, I’m evaluating the last few months, content and nostalgic. My headphones encases music that links me to everyone I know or have known.

From Colombia starting and finishing with Gab and first and last weekends with Claudia to seeing old friends in almost surreal circumstances in Canada and the USA. I am forever grateful. The faces I saw particularly in Canada will stay with me forever. For the most recent I had seen any of them was 6 years ago. Bobbi who met me at the airport in Winnipeg I hadn’t seen for a few months under 10 years. Christine over 6 years. Ronnie and Debs the same. Ashley 7 years. And yet we slipped back in there like old times, rarely suffering an undeserved silence. In fact, all now had kids, were married and had a more moderated lifestyle and they all impressed me more. I will write more about Canada and the people there in another blog. Being well-fed was indeed heart-warming even if I do need to shed a few pounds this summer.

The USA was a more hectic time, staying in Greenwich Village, the most central and celebrated spot in Manhattan. I don’t know what Steve and Lucy pay for this ground floor flat but it must be small fortunes a month. I caught Rocky and Dave Gordon in Philly, Beau in Jersey, Ola in Midtown, two nights with Steve and one to be explained.

Last time in NYC was almost free thanks to some dodgy Russian and the American Red Cross. This time I enjoyed it more spending days wandering the streets and taking in the life of the greatest city in the world (sorry Pedro!). New York treated me to excellent weather but the sunshine is forever present in the vibrancy of the noise.

Colombia will get many blogs in the weeks to come concerning the people, culture and places. Its a beautiful spot, one I’ve wanted to visit for a long time and it didn’t let me down. So now I am heading to Germany to see more friends and sights in Frankfurt, with Em in the mountains and then back to the Balkans and maybe a few nearby places like the Ukraine etc

So that’s how Reg my memory stick monkey lost his arm. Travelling and savouring the sights and nights of friends reunited and friendship renewed. We did well. And are lucky even if Reg lost an arm in sacrifice. He knows though it was worth it. He’s still smiling.

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I know I should…

I know I should have written more and I have so intended to but alas the streets have been calling me to wonder and wander and I’m busy planning the next stage. Ahh its gonna be so exciting.

So last night, before meeting Michele’s friend Astrid, Beau and I got tickets to see the New York Knicks basketball team when I am in New Jersey. Might even have a look at the Jersey Shore! I haven’t seen Beau since some good nights in Ljubljana in 2009. The night before Steve and I are seeing the Yankees in New York and the night before its to Philadelphia to do the Rocky Steps Dance and have dinner and drinks with Dave Gordon, a New York doctor we had some good nights with in Estonia. After all this I have a few days in New York with Steve and Lucy and hopefully catching up with Ola from Nottingham.

Then its off to Germany to see Viola, Michelle and Oscar before biking/boarding in the Alps with Emmo (and we’re gong to Liechtenstein) before I fly to the Balkans to meet Mirella in Serbia and maybe Elena from Nottingham if she makes it over. I’ll fly back from Dubrovnik via Macedonia to see friends and then straight back to the work I love. The summer and the autumn university return are sorted.

Before all this I’ll be in Canada for about 10 days before that staying with Ashley and Tommy, Debs and Ronnie at Niagara and their assorted little ones. Got a night in Toronto with the guys and a day wandering Ottawa and a date with destiny!

Alas just before this, I have a final weekend in Colombia, spending time with Gab and Natalia, Claudia tonight and maybe a music festival this weekend with MGMT and TV on the Radio. And on my last night Manu Chao is playing a huge free gig, just like he did 6 years ago in Mexico City.

Sorry for the list of stuff and to bore you with details. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my Spanish and some pieces about relationships here, Medallin and Bogota, the small colonial towns, craziness up north, coffee country and food! Its been an amazing time. Now off to get a present for someone…

What to write. Where to start.

What to write. Where to start. I dunno. I´ll start simple and build from there or maybe its better to say from here.

I´m sat in an internet cafe using this wondrous invention for the first time in a long time. Previously it seemed I couldn´t live a day without it but after leaving my laptop at Gab´s flat in Bogota and hitting the road, I´ve barely given it a second thought. I suppose like we used to.

I´ve Alligator by The National playing in my ears and staring out into a street full of cowboys in rubber boots and hat, their torso covered with light ponchos. Young girls and boys are chasing each other while their mothers stand in doorways discussing lives.

The town is Salento, a small country town in ´Coffee Country´ in the Colombian mountains staying on a farm and generally just taking it slow. After a few weeks travelling the major spots, the Caribbean, Barichara and Medallin, I needed and wanted some downtime, time to read and gather some thoughts, to write and decide what to do next beyond Colombia. New York and parts of Canada are still to come but in reality I´m thinking beyond the next few months and have to focus the mind on the next few years. Uni decisions loom this month.

The internet cafe doubles as the local phone shop. Surprisingly mobile phones are not as ubitiqious as assumed. Locals come in, give a number to the woman who inputs the number and then hands the phone over. Calls never last long. That surprise is a forerunner for a lot I´ve seen. The internet is slow here. TV still rules the roost and all news is domestic.

Colombia is an economically developing country within a seemingly wholly worked out culture. Despite its international reputation, the country itself has a gentle understanding. Colombians are polite and generous, clearly amongst the nicest people I´ve met. The reasons for this are unclear initially. After all this is a country racked with drugs wars and instability. But as you find when you are here, the problems are often the consequence of outside action. The drug wars are fuelled by American and now European inability to function without cocaine. The domestic demand is too funded happily by gringos coming over and taking coke.

And for this drug reputation and the habits of the West, the Colombian passport carries very little weight. I remember the problems Gab had with this passport just trying to get around Europe. The shame is passed on and its the genuine Colombians as a whole who carry the weight.

These are all pretty random Sunday afternoon notes so I appreciate it if you got this far. I´m going to put up various, more considered stories over the next few weeks about being on the farm, Colombia in general, modern backpackers and other topics. Its been a fine time.

Without warm water in my head
All I see is black and white and red

Yeah I know

Its been a while. I have sooo much to write and say I´m becoming daunted by the task. Times are good. Now in the central South in a town called Salento where men ride horses to the bar and cowboys hang out on street corners wearing ponchos and chewing sticks. Not sure what the plan is next but Medallin, Cartagena, San Gil were great.

I´ll be back very soon with the first real update.

x

Time to Roll

So its the beginning of a year and its time to take myself abroad again, a January tradition I started in 2008. I figured its always better to go to travel and see something when the weather (and country) sucks at home. The second obvious reason is more positive; England is nice in summer.

In 2008 I quit work (again) and went to Australia for LP´s wedding and then New Zealand, SE Asia and Europe coming back in mid-September. Less drastic and colder, I went East in 2009 to Poland and Eastern Europe to work and travel down to near the Balkans returning in August. 2010 involved a trip to pick up Linden in Berlin and head over to Israel and the Middle East until March. And Uni commitments in 2011 only allowed a week in Andalucia in February. But it was 22C 🙂

This year I’m going further afield again to a land of snowy mountains, blue ocean, dance and colonial towns. I’m staying with Gabriel in general but Claudia has already planned the first weekend away and friends have flooded me with information and contacts to make this trip a real special one. Colombia and Panama, I cannot wait. I’ll get stories and pics up  as quick as possible.

When I return via New York, I’ll have to get my head down fora few months until the summer in Oxford and a return to Uni which is now awaiting confirmation. Much thanks to those who gave me advice and the lawyer lecturer whose responses highlighted a danger implicit in law; that it must do others’ bidding. I’ll find a way.

See you soon 🙂

On Second Thoughts: Faustino Asprilla

Tagline: The Colombian is blamed for costing Newcastle the title in 1995-96, but that’s far too simplistic a view

Danny sent me this article. I like the Guardian for its news, comment and blogs but Jesus, sometime when there is no real news, journalists shouldn’t bother writing anything or certainly not regurgitating old pieces.

As a Newcastle fan, I dont really understand the point of this article. We lost the league for so many reasons and I barely heard Tino be mentioned at the forefront. Sure he was a luxury signing but that night against Barcelona, with Gillespie skinning that short, fat Barca left back (can’t remember his name) time and time again, then delivering great crosses and Tino hammering them home, still leaves me smiling as some of the most exciting moments any Newcastle fan has experienced.