Friday, March 27, 2015

From: Ernst Aebi


Hi!
How are you?
Have you seen this http://carnesadrian.com/pair.php before? Oprah had been using it for over a year!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

HEAD BASHING CONTINUES

HOME SWEET HOME


Back at the farm, harvesting food.

Beavers in my pond cut down my fruit trees, but chase the Musk Rats away.

Harvest from my farm in Vermont


My beautiful farm.


When I took their honey, the bees got me in the upper part of the face.

Later they took care of the lower part.


I now have honey, pickled vegetables, dehydrated vegetables, frozen vegetables, canned vegetables, dried apples, apple sauce, apple butter, wild grape jelly, beef jerky, beef, lamb and chicken in the freezer and ...

Life is good.

• • •




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

54 FEET IN FAT VIRGIN, March, 2014

54 FEET IN FAT VIRGIN

March 22, 2014

My daughter Jade called from London.

"Would you like to join Nick and Tony for a sailing regatta in the BVIs?" she said.

"Can't," I said, "have to stay in New York until I have a deal with a new store tenant."

"Come on, it is only ten days, and, unlike in your planned Darien Gap folly, you can stay in daily contact with New York by phone and by e-mail.

Ah well. 
A stitched gash on the head, a swollen nose and
shiners under both, the eye and the empty eye-
socket, kept me off the booze because of antibiotics
in the system.
I am now sitting in the Bitter End Crawl Pub of Virgin Gorda, the Fat Virgin in the BVIs, drinking tea, abstaining from booze because of six stitches in a gash on my head, black shiners under my real eye and under my empty eye socket, a grossly swollen nose, and being pumped full of antibiotics, after slamming across the cockpit, resulting in a violent winch-head encounter caused by a flying mainsail sheet during a (controlled) jibe.

Today will be the last day of racing. 

Mellifera, our beautiful 54-foot Swan, the standard of sailboat excellence in normal marinas the world over, would most likely be any marina's crown jewel. Here in the BVIs she looks puny. Hundred-plus-foot sailing and motor mega yachts, are being polished by their uniformed crews to a blinding shine all over the place. Their 0.01 percenter owners in scuffed, frayed, flapping soled boat shoes and threadbare shirts bearing the name of their mega-million dollar boats — mingle with us normal mortals and drink the same rum punch, causing all of us to talk equally stupid. Once more I realize how numb-skulled we sound when we are rum-soaked. I have to stay sober among the boozers, even after daily races, on account of antibiotics in my system.

The doctor suggested I have my head examined when I refused anesthesia for stitching a large gash on my skull. To judge my mental acuity he asked what date we were and I had no idea. Further questions about my birthday, my name, the name of our president, for all of which I had correct answers, made it clear I didn't know the date of the day simply because I was on holiday.


Glorious us. Of the four legs in the race. one time we came in second, two times third and the last one,
the one that really counted, that went all the way around the FAT VIRGIN, we managed last place.
Okay, the others had racing sails and we had but cruising stuff, not ideal in light downwind sailing.




I am glad I went. It was fun. My head wound is healing well, the shiners under my eye sockets are waning, New York still has its magic for me. A stack of mail was waiting for me. I am ready to talk to new prospective tenants. On Friday the stitches will come out of my head wound.

Now, already April 6, the rainy season has started in the Darien Gap. With no particular desire to slog through muddy jungle at a time when the mosquitoes really swarm, and not in the mood for swimming across swollen, debris-carrying rivers I resigned myself to put off that jungle bash for the time being. 

At my age, just had the 76th birthday, it would be prudent not to make plans too far into the future ... you never know when a ton of bricks will fall on your head. That assault on the head has already started with last year's motorcycle summersault in Zanzibar and now during the violent head-winch encounter in the regatta. In earnest it came yesterday when I had a stent placed into one of my coronary arteries that now makes me feel like shit. 

Sic transit gloriam mundi.




Saturday, March 8, 2014

SH•T HAPPENS, March 7, 2014

SHIT HAPPENS

March 7, 2014

• Just checked dates for the rainy season in the Darien Gap region, when, instead of wading across rivers, I'd have to swim. The heavy rains start in April.

• My commercial space rental tribulations require my presence in New York City's SoHo. I don't see an end to them 'til into our summer.

• A doctor told me to avoid stress. She meant physical stress but to me now, it has all turned mental on account of not living up to my own expectations. I had to abandon this year's jungle dream in the Darien Gap.

• Eva, my loyal sister-in-law in Switzerland is losing 50 francs (about 60 dollars) in a bet because of me. My brother — the creep (but I still love him) — made a bet with her that I'd find an excuse for not going through with the Darien Gap plan this winter, and now she has to pay for having  misplaced confidence in me. I am very sorry.

• With exciting food always available, all around me, and fun drinking buddies aplenty in the Big Apple,  and easy access to all sorts of other temptations, my girth is evolving into an old man's pot belly.

• Every year I get a year older — duh! This year it will be the seventy-sixth. That is the kind of number relating to my age I don't want to be reminded of. Creaking joints and wheezing breath do it anyway.

• The Darien Gap is getting easier. As time goes, it won't be so much of an adventure anymore. I just read about a mini backpacker boom on Colombia's Caribbean coast, an area adjoining of the Darien Gap. Two former end-of-the-world settlements on the Golfo de Urabe, Capurgana and Sapzurro, now even have hotels and guesthouses. Although not run-of-the-mill tourist destinations — yet — they can be reached from Turbo by a 2 1/2-hour wet boat ride. Turbo is an easy nine-hour bus ride from hip Cartagena. It is still illegal to cross over to Panama from Sapzurro, but who cares. It sounds like a short bash through the jungle, there is even a path. A stint in a Panamanian jail as a result of illegal border crashing, might also be beneficial for someone like yours truly. Should I get locked up in a Panamanian jail because of it, according so some of my kids' predictions, it might help to deconstruct my growing pot belly. Food for thought.

I am not copping out. I really wanted — and still want — to do the Darien Gap this winter. I already bought an insect repellent shirt. Problem is, I can't ignore my business obligation in Manhattan. It is the smooth running of that business, renting out my commercial spaces, that makes my forays into the wild financially possible.

I already hired someone to prepare my vegetable garden in Vermont in case I can't make it back for planting time, be it from Colombia ... or Panama ... or a Panamanian jail.

 Now, even though I already have several potential new tenants, negotiations, contract arrangements, preparatory construction and financial finagling hold me back in the Big Apple.

My friend Fritz who now calls the wilds of Vermont his home, just arrived to visit me for a breath big city air. I hope he got out in time from his hibernation because strange things seem to have crawled into his head while stuck in the frozen hills. Every day, he creates a new drawing of his fictional mister Miller then posts it at <www.flickr.com/photos/fritzgross>. They make your head spin. When you see that stuff, your gratitude for not having to spend a winter in northern Vermont will be boundless.






Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DOORS OPEN, DOORS CLOSE, January 2014

New York, January 15, 2014

DOORS OPEN, DOORS CLOSE

If my world was perfect I'd now be somewhere in southeastern Panama, scouting for a way to get around National Police patrols to walk through the Darien Gap to Colombia.

Oooops!

In late Fall, while still on my Vermont farm, I got notice that the financial source which makes possible my forays into the wilds of our planet is drying up. The tenant of a store I own in Manhattan that, every month, had promptly paid me a lot of rent,  announced he'd have to move out (they had done well in my space and now moved to a much larger one).

I rushed to Manhattan, contacted friends who might have connections, and real estate brokers. In no time did I have two potential new tenants.

On interviewing them I found one to be the kind of person where, after shaking hands with him, I'd be tempted to count my fingers to check if they are all still there, and the other was a small Chinese art porcelain maker who'd sent his cousin over from nearby Chinatown to check out the space. Neither of the two instilled enough confidence for me to let them take over the space.

Now I have to stay in Manhattan, to check out new prospective tenants, to negotiate with them and deal with brokers. Lawyers get involved. Instead of sweating while bashing through Central American jungle, I have business lunches, and boring office meetings, while my mind conjures up cool adventures.

I am chomping at the bit to get there, just as I have announced in this blog since quite some time.  I have already gotten e-mail from blog readers that ask: What about that Darien Gap?

My present situation reminds me of a passage in a Strubelpeter story by Wilhelm Busch an Austrian writer who, about two-hundred-years ago, coined the moniker: Erstens kommt es anders, und, zweitens als man denkt, which loosely translated says in a facetious way: No matter what you think, things turn out different than what you think.

I googled for dates of the rainy seasons in the Darien Gap. I don't want to risk having to swim across rivers. So far I am still fine with time. Just check the blog from time to time. One of these days I'll be there.

Google also told me that the Panamanian National Police won't let anyone into the Darien Gap anymore because it creates bad publicity for the Panamanian tourist industry when, ever once in a while some foreigner disappears in its territory.

My kids, in a clearly facetious way, root for me to get caught and then spend time in a Panamanian jail for ignoring the interdiction. They say I'd lose the pot belly I have recently acquired.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

FORTY-FIVE-THOUSAND DOLLARS PER DAY

New York,  November 19, 2013

FORTY-FIVE-THOUSAND DOLLARS PER DAY

The Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan offers rooms (suites) for forty-five-thousand dollars per day.

Oh yeah, the article where I found out about that bargain, also said that efforts are under way to increase availability of such pricey hotel accommodations in town in order to satisfy the demands by well-off visitors.

A brochure offers Manhattan digs for rent, priced as high as 125,000 dollars per month. The 125,000 dollar per month one comes with a south-facing garden … duh!

85,000 per month gets you seven bedrooms and two fplcs (fire places). At another, a 8.500 per month dwelling, you are pampered with washer/dryer, wine cooler and abundant storage, but in the advertisement for that one it says specifically that pets are not allowed.

There are about fifty of those kinds of digs listed in the brochure, the least expensive I found, at 2,800 is for a one-bedroom with marble bath.

I live in a beautiful, comfortable SoHo loft that I converted in the eighties to residential from a plumbing supply warehouse. It is in a neighborhood where nowadays are local restaurants that feel to me like home away from home,  I have friends and friendly neighbors. Whatever outlandish goodies I might fancy are practically at my fingertips. When in the early morning I go out to get the newspaper, I exchange "good morning" with several people that are also out at the time. Some aspects of big city living, even in Manhattan, feel like country living.

The digs I found last year in the vicinity of a pitch dark bus stop in southern Ethiopia for 1,80 dollar per night, one of the cheapest during my recent travels, quite possibly made me a happier camper — even after having stepped into a sewage ditch, resulting in dirty smelling feet in the dark between the bus stop and the hotel — than the pampered 45,000-dollar-per-day-hotel-room-dweller in Manhattan.

As mentioned often in this blog, my purpose in traveling is to experience how people live in the countries I visit, to eat what they eat, to travel they way they travel, to experience some of the problems they experience; like police corruption, traffic and pedestrian congestions, contaminated water and strange food of questionable provenance. I also get a taste of their misery, along with their joys and laughter.

The Manhattan visitor in the forty-five-thousand-dollar-a-day-digs is not likely to find out how good some of the local Big Apple street food can be. He won't experience the culinary delight of a spicy Italian sausage with sautéed peppers and onions from a griddle, packed in between a crusty bread. When you bite into that Italian sausage, it leaves a reddish, fatty smear from ear to ear, as if painting a big smile across your mug.

He is not likely to come across classy street performers in Washington Square park or in Central park, or in Union Square park. I saw Philippe Petit doing his tricks on a rope stretched between two trees. He later became a famous sensation for his high wire walk between the World Trade Center towers and the film "Man on Wire". In Washington Square he performed for coins thrown into a hat.

The few times I happened to stay in first class hotels, eateries, or saw performances, I found they offer more or less the same standardized fare all over the world. A first class wine tastes the same at the Peninsula in Hong Kong, as in the George V or the Meurice in Paris, the Raffles in Singapore, the Carlton in Cannes, the Imperial in Tokyo, and, yes, at the Four Seasons or the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.

One of the best theatrical/ music performance I ever saw was not in Manhattan's Lincoln Center, but in a Tanzania train station where some waiting fellow passengers did a lusty, improvised war dance in street clothes, accompanied by home made and improvised instruments.

One time, in an extremely unlike place, I hit the jackpot with wine. My brothers and I were fishing in Canada's Labrador at a godforsaken a-hole in the middle of nowhere in the barren land. The place didn't have a restaurant but two greasy spoon diners, across the muddy street from each other, both belonging to woodland Indians. On a whim, Peter, one of my brothers, asked if they had wine.
"Only one kind, red," the toothless man said.
"How much?"
"Oh, gimme five dollars," the man said. He brought the bottle.
Our eyes almost popped out. The bottle was a Mouton Cadet, Mise en Bouteille au Chateau Rothschild. The other diner across the street in the small town, we found out, had the same Mouton Cadet Rothschild and nothing else.

We figured, a container full of the stuff from a ship wreck must have washed up on the shore, or there was an over-supply of that vintage and the Chateau's business powers that be, instead of destroying it, sent a container full of that elixir for a song to that godforsaken place in Labrador where, because nobody-who-is-anybody ever goes there, it would not influence the price among the world's cognoscenti.

Traveling is much more fun, and much more exciting, when I am on a few-dollars-per-day budget. It promises totally unexpected discoveries. Best of all, I am likely to meet fellow travelers who have the same kinds of goals as I. Unlike business travelers or leisure searching blasé jet setters they also search for exciting, out-of-the-way wacky adventure places far from the organized holiday hotel, cocktail and beach crowds.

To a frequent reader of my blog it must sound redundant, but I can't help shouting out ever once in a while:

 I have a love affair with our beautiful planet!

The Darien Gap will have to wait for me 'til some time in January. We'll have a family reunion in London for Christmas. Going from a cold, wet place to another cold, wet place, from New York to London, doesn't sound exciting except it will be grandkids, kids and grandpa.

At least, unlike in the Darien Gap, in London I won't be plagued by mosquitoes and won't be stalked by jaguars, and won't have to wade across rivers and there won't be FARC rebels to deal with. London Bridge will be more comfortable for a river crossing but it will also be less exciting.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FIFTY-THREE COUNTRIES

New York, November 7, 2013 (in my luxurious SoHo loft)

I just counted from an UN list of countries the ones I have visited so far, crossed off 153 and realized I am running out of places to explore without stepping over my tracks.

To get to really know those countries, I sometimes stayed put and sometimes traveled on local buses, hitchhiked, floated on big and sometimes tiny river boats, and sometimes also on luxurious dive boats. I crossed the Atlantic four times on small sailboats,
• once from Cornwall in England with my children to New York, without previous sailing experience,
• then singlehanded from Holland, via Cornwall, the Azores to Newport, Rhode Island in the US,
• then from Dakar in Senegal, with Emilie my wife, and partly my daughter Nina, to Florida via the Cap Verdes, the Caribbean and the Bahamas,
• next from Bordeaux in France to Florida, via Ireland, the Azores, also with Emilie.

Sometimes I was driving cars and trucks, or riding on camels, donkeys and horses, for a short lark even an ostrich on a South African ostrich farm, sat in the driver's seat of scooters and mopeds, rode on back seat motorcycle taxis. Once as passengers on motorcycle back seats on a really lousy road in the former DMZ (demilitarized zone) between North and South Vietnam we, Emilie and I, crossed over the mountains to Laos.

The brain got shaken to mush on rattling bush taxies, stuffed dallah-dallahs of East Africa or on the Paris-Dakar rally across the Sahara.

Sometimes goals were reached at a more leisurely pace by trekking;
• once over the Himalayas, described in my book A SHORT STINT IN TIBET,
• or in the Sahara, after our caravan was robbed in the middle of nowhere in the desert, when we had to walk to Timbuktu (described in the documentary film, BAREFOOT TO TIMBUKTU, and in my book SEASONS OF SAND, Simon & Schuster 1993.
• In Patagonia, Emilie and I circumambulated the majestic Torres de Paine and trekked many days between Chile and Argentina.
• Trekking in the swamps of the Brazilian Pantanal with Cato, the farmer, meant sidestepping crocodiles.

Traveling was almost always by local means, eating local food, sleeping where locals sleep.

I got treated in local hospitals;
• for a hernia  operation in Uruguay,
• an eye extraction in Tanzania,
• a festering wound on my belly in Paraguay
• an arm paralysis in Brighton, England (before the single-handed North Atlantic sailboat crossing).

I heard their laughter, and sometime joined in. I saw — and felt — their sorrows.

As mentioned a few times before in this blog:

I HAVE AN INTENSE LOVE AFFAIR WITH OUR PLANET.

Sometime in the future I plan to describe a few of my more memorable encounters with our planet. It will be from memory because most of those exploits took place when computers were but the stuff of science fiction. 

• • •