Monday, August 20, 2007

Drug dealers and a new guitar

Waking up to see the beautiful San Sebastian bay below me with the surrounding city behind it was one of the most beautiful sights I have seen in a long time. Unfortunately when you are awakened by rain at 6 in the morning you don’t have the opportunity to really appreciate it.

Budapest was an amazing city with its huge castle jutting out of a mountain and the Danube running down its center separating the Buda and Pest sides of the city. Dingo and I had a fantastic time staying with our friends there but decided to get out of the city for a bit and see the countryside. There was a PsyTrance festival going on down south so we went to check it out. Hitchhiking out of the city we were shortly picked up by a woman and her 11 year-old son. They were heading in our direction so we went with them for awhile. About an hour into the ride she invited us to come stay at her house with her and her two other children. Dingo and I looked at each other and said, “Why not?” so we went. We arrived at a small country house near Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Europe. The house was surrounded by wine vineyards and cornfields. We met the rest of the family including the grandfather who gave us homemade wine from his vineyard. Dingo and I cooked that night for the whole family by candlelight in the old pig shed. After dinner Dingo performed his fire show for the family who loved it. The following day we went to the lake with Julie, the 20 year-old daughter. We spent a few hours sunbathing and swimming in the beautiful body of water. In the evening we were invited to go to a friend’s house to hang out. We thought we’d meet a few people, maybe four or five, drink a few beers, and just chill. When we arrived we were greeted by about thirty-five to forty smiling faces. Apparently the family had told all their friends about Dingo’s fire show and they gathered to see it. Dingo did his performance to a wide round of applause then someone broke out a guitar and started playing while I sang. We entertained and were entertained all night long. As much fun as we were having we took off the next day to go back to Budapest. After singing along to the guitar player my flame for learning to play the guitar was rekindled. The day before my birthday, back in Budapest, I started searching for a guitar. Dingo and I went to a great musical instrument store where I found the perfect semi-acoustic guitar so I bought it for myself as a birthday present. The store didn’t have a hard case for it so I wrapped up the cardboard box it was in and prepared it for travel.

On my birthday Dingo and I took off. We debated about heading north to go to Germany, Norway, and Sweden but the weather up there was horrible so we decided to head to a surf competition on the Southern Atlantic coast of France where we knew it would be warm. Outside of Budapest we were picked up by a guy in a beat up car with enough room for the three of us, our things, and about two square inches left over for breathing room. The guy had just spent the last year in a Romanian prison for drug trafficking and was on his way to Portugal to see his family. He was heading all the way to Torino, Italy and although it was cramped and uncomfortable we went with him the whole way stopping in Tarvisio (where I began my hike through the Alps) for a nice birthday dinner. Switching off driving throughout the night we arrived in Torino at about 5 a.m. the following morning. After catching about two hours of sleep at the back of a gas station Dingo and I began hitching again. We caught several small rides through the Italian Alps and into France. South of Toulouse we caught a ride with a French guy and his girlfriend who had just come back from Morocco with cartons upon cartons of cigarettes. He was buying them cheap down there and selling them in France along with other substances he picked up there. He offered to give us a ride all the way to Hossegor where the surf competition was for fourteen euros. We figured that was a good amount for gas and everything, although fourteen is a weird amount to request, so we agreed. About three hours later around 2:30 in the morning we arrived at the beach. We got out of the car and gave the guy 20 euros since he went through a lot of trouble trying to find the place and we figured he could keep the other 6 euros. He looked at me and said, “Where’s the other 20?” I asked him what he was talking about, that he demanded 14 euros but he claimed that we had agreed upon 40. We thought that 14 was a weird number but before we agreed I tried clarifying with him that it was indeed 14 euros and he agreed on that. Well we gave him the last of our money which was another 7 euros and he went on his way. Dingo and I then crashed on the beach to the sound of the ocean surf. We awoke a few hours later to hot sun with sand in our sleeping bags and ocean spray hitting our faces. We got up and starting checking out the small surf city. By noon clouds rolled in and the wind picked up. It became cold and threatened to rain. We were walking up the boardwalk when we met to young dudes from Southern California who were quite typically SoCal. They invited us to stay with them in the small hostel place they were staying as there were only two of them but they had five beds in the place. So we took our stuff over there and hung out with them for the rest of the evening. They were kind enough to buy us food and drinks throughout the night and provide us with a roof over our heads which was very fortunate as it rained a lot that evening and the next morning.

When noon arrived on the following day and the weather hadn’t gotten any better, nor with the weather forecast would it, we made the decision to head south into Spain. Walking down the road with our things I stuck my thumb out and immediately someone pulled over and gave us a lift. We got a couple rides soon after that including one that then we were picked up by two really cute French girls heading to San Sebastian. They asked if we wanted to go and naturally we gave them an enthusiastic “yes”. Upon arrival in San Sebastian we found a large fiesta going on and joined in the fun. We spent the night dancing and partying like it was 1999. At about 5 in the morning we decided it was time to get some sleep. We snuck into a giant mountain park by scaling a 12 foot high wall that curved around the gate with steps worn into it. We then climbed up the mountain overlooking the town and found a great spot to set up camp. We slept about and hour before we were awakened by rain pouring down on our heads. If you have never been woken up by rain after an hour of sleep I must tell you it is an awful experience, trust me. Dingo and I were both in a fowl mood so we went our separate ways for awhile. I went to a beautiful church to meditate and pray then found a guitar case, finally, ate some food, checked email and things then went to find Dingo. I had no idea where he was so I just wandered in the direction I thought he might be saying to myself that if I find him, great, if not, oh well we’d probably meet up later. Walking down the road a tall blond guy stopped me and asked in English if I was looking for someone. He told me that my friend was in the internet cafĂ© on the corner so I walked in and found Dingo. Had the guy not stopped me to tell me I might have never found him. I told Dingo about it and he didn’t recall mentioning looking for me to anyone that morning… weird. We relaxed on a bench around the corner and I pulled out my guitar to play it for the first time since I had bought it nearly a week prior. We had siesta on the sidewalk then walked around the city a bit to check it out. When evening came around we watched a spectacular fireworks display then ran into a young couple from the Czech Republic drinking cheap wine next on a bench with their giant backpacks at their side. They didn’t have a place to sleep that night so we invited them to stay at our “Mountain Hotel” since it was a clear night and didn’t look like it would rain. It was still too early to sneak into the park so they invited us for a couple drinks. They and Dingo drank some beer while we watched a Basque dance party. The bands played Basque folk music to an upbeat tempo while the young and old performed traditional dances together. When the time had arrived to head to the mountain the Czech guy, Adam, was pretty smashed. We found our way to the gate and Dingo and I proceeded to scale the wall again. We turned around the corner behind the gate and waited for a few minutes. When the other two didn’t show up we decided to investigate. We dropped our bags then went back around the corner. We found Adam lying on the ground below the highest part of the wall unconscious with his girlfriend hovering nervously above him. He was still breathing and after about a minute he woke up with a chipped tooth and no memory of the incident but with no other injuries. Since he was drunk and had a heavy bag on his back when he fell he was relaxed and the bag absorbed the impact. We half-carried half-walked him up the mountain to our sleeping spot. While they got settled Dingo and I checked out the view from our place and saw the lights of the city down below along with the darkness of the bay. We slept quite soundly that night to awake the following morning to sunshine and a loud Italian guy singing above us at the top of his lungs. Adam was fine but still couldn’t remember what happened. We spent a little while basking in the sunshine and absorbing the view of the beautiful sights below us. Deciding to head out of the city that day and head to Portugal we took the couple to the train station so they could make their way back to Prague. Dingo and I then made the attempt to leave San Sebastian.

With no luck hitchhiking along the freeway we caught a bus for a euro that took us just outside the city. We then caught a ride with a guy in a camper who was heading to Madrid, so we figured, why not go to Madrid. We arrived in Madrid yesterday afternoon and checked out the city for awhile. Although we had no intention of coming to Madrid I’m glad we came. This is a gorgeous city though huge and would recommend it to anyone. Last night while searching for a place for Dingo to perform and earn some cash we came across a giant park. We heard many drums and cheers coming from a section of the park and headed towards the music. Upon arrival we found a huge drum circle with about 50 people or so drumming, dancing, drinking, and just having a good time. We joined in and Dingo performed for the crowd. We hung out for awhile meeting really cool people. That night we slept in the park but were brought out of our slumber quite suddenly by sprinklers. It isn’t as bad as being awakened by rain but its pretty close. We found another area as dawn was approaching and caught another hour or so of sleep before the park security woke us up and told us we had to leave. Now we are on our way to Grenada to see what the artistic city holds. After that I will be heading to a hippie commune about an hour south of there and I think I might stay there for awhile. So if I do not post again for a long time, do not fear, I am in safe hippie hands. Until next time, adios!

2 comments:

Nasal Radiator & Child Astronomer said...

Will - I have heard of your fascinating trek through your Dad (you might recall I met you over a year ago at a family dinner in D.C.) - and I felt compelled to read more, so came here to hear of your saga in detail. I gotta say, this is one impressive walkabout. I hope you get to blog more as you head to Tibet (will you get to Nepal too?). I hope peace for your journey, and many good times, and this journey unfolds in enlightened ways for you.
Be well, Will,
Warmly,
Paul Shankland

Tama said...

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