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Mike's Around-The-World Trip Update #5 - 5.19.2004
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lagos, portugal got me. i just couldn´t seem to
leave, i was having way too much fun; seems i left a
day too late. read on....

me and my 20 new friends were gathered in the
courtyard of the youth hostel last saturday night
getting ready for another wild night in lagos, an old
fishing town on the west side of "the algarve", the
southern coast of portugal. the port wine was
flowing, so was the vinho verde, the beer as well.
travel stories buzzed the air like flies around a
camel´s head. i kept telling phil, my aussie roommate
"it´s going to be a good night dude". "yes it is" was
his response every time. we were stuck here like
everyone else around us. almost all of the bartenders
in town were stuck as well - some came on vacation and
stayed for 9, 12, 15, 25 years, i kid you not. i was
starting to worry i wouldn´t get any further on my
trip than lagos. i planned on staying 1 day, this was
my 6th day. it´s the fantastic people, the laid back
atmosphere, the bars, the amazingly beautiful beaches
tucked between 100 foot sandstone cliffs, the
turquoise ocean, the port wine....the place grabs hold
and locks on.

so anyway, we all took off at once; the english guys,
the aussies, the canadians, the italians, all of us
together to assault the bars yet again. the guys at a
bar called the 3 monkeys seemed to enjoy my patronage
quite a bit and would always welcome me like a brother
with a tragically hip song, huge smiles and powerful
shots - i am not much of a shot guy but i am reluctant
to say "no" on this trip, especially to something
free. i said "yes" when i should have said "no" about
5 times too many and about 4am found myself on one of
the beautiful beaches making it ugly with my vomit.
"d*mn, i hate shots" i said as i covered another pile
of my puke with some really cool sand. i passed out
on the beach. someone woke me up. i stumbled back to
the hostel, my path resembeling a first time tricycle
rider. i got to the place and knocked on the door to
have the night watchman let me in. the hostel had no
curfew like many do but often the dude who was to let
you in after 2am was sound asleep - looked like one of
those nights. anyone who knows me really well perhaps
knows the side of me that secretly hoped he wouldn´t
answer so i could come up with some creative way to
get into my room. he didn´t answer; i smiled.

i found a pipe leading up the front side of the
building and found my way in. i was about 10 feet in
the air with about 5 more to go when the pipe ended
and insulated cables hung instead. i grabbed those
and was swinging above the street hoping to hell
they´d hold me until i could get onto the roof. they
held. i swung from the cables onto the red-tiled roof
and started making my way toward the windows. i
picked which one i thought was mine and jumped in onto
the table at the windowsill. wrong room. there was
some shocked woman sitting up in bed staring at me
like the blair witch but i calmed her heart with:
"don´t panic, i´m just looking for room #7." i made
my way through the room of the 4 girls, 3 of whom were
sound-asleep, 1 of whom was not screaming
bloody-murder (thank god). i unlocked their door,
opened it, locked it again, and made my way from room
#16 to my room, #7....seems i was a little off. damn
shots. i made it to my room, tore off my clothes and
collapsed on my bed. another awesome night in lagos -
i just HAD to stay for the summer.

it all goes to sh*t from here. read on...

everyone else either handles hangovers better or had
not drunk as many as me and at about 11 my room was
filled with my pals. matt from vancouver asked if he
could play my guitar. he was sitting on the end of my
bed playing it when i asked him to hand me my
man-purse. "where is it, dude?" he asked. "think
it´s on the table or under my bed," i said and winced
at my blinding headache. he couldn´t find it. i had
purchased my man-purse in sanlucar de barremeda, spain
in order to carry around all the stuff i needed on a
typical day. normal guys: not knowing where your
man-purse is is very similar to not knowing where your
wallet is; even if it is for just 10 seconds your
entire life halts until you find it - my life was
about to go on permanent halt. "holy f*cking sh*t,
it´s not here," i said 4000 times. we all searched
every inch of the room and it was nowhere to be found.
i got on some clothes, pushed my hangover aside and
rocketed on my bike toward the beach to see if i left
it there next to a pile of vomit. nope. it was gone.
why did this bother me so much? it had my camera in
it, with all 2500 pictures i had taken for the last 2
months, my bike computer which i use to track time,
distance and speed while riding, my passport, my
journal with dozens of email addresses, phone numbers,
business cards, etc. of people i have met along the
way, my portugal guidebook, my portguese phrasebook,
all my essential items. gone.

people consoled me as i tried to figure out what in
hell happened, they helped me search, they offered
every kind of support but it´s one of those things -
words don´t do anything for you. they all left for
the beach eventually, their vacations had to go on; i
sat in my room and cried.

i eventually walked down to the front desk and saw my
journal and suntan lotion on a shelf. i asked the guy
where that had come from and he said he found it
outside in the morning. i was puzzled. i finally
concluded that i set my bag on the windowsill in my
drunken state and during the night it fell out. in
the morning someone found it, picked out the things
they didn´t want throwing them on the street and made
off with the rest. either way, the journal proved to
me the rest was gone. i thanked the lord for small
miracles: the journal was the #1 thing i didn´t want
to lose. i contemplated the mind of a thief who does
something like that: a compassionate a**hole, i guess.

the reality that all my pictures were gone for good
sunk in and i dragged myself back up to my room. i
sat on the edge of my bed and thought about giving up
and going home. i thought about how much i hate
thieves. i thought about the amazing things i wanted
to show you all and i teared up again. god, those
pictures were priceless to me. what about my
passport? how was i going to deal without one of
those? i was going to see the whole world for god´s
sake and you can´t even check into a european hotel
room without one. i thought about going home again.
i felt ill with the weight of it all and i laid down
on my bed. i folded my hands behind my head and cast
my eyes up toward the bottom of the bunk above me.
there, scratched into the wood, in bold block letters
was written:

"DON´T GO HOME"

you are god d*mn right. don´t go home. this trip is
my dream and no f*cking a**hole is going to take it
from me.

i rallied and headed down to the courtyard. slowly my
new friends from around the world trickled in from the
beach. they all genuinely felt for me and helped me
through the loss. we eventually started laughing,
sharing stories and discussing the important things in
life: friendship, family, love, a sense of humor, your
dreams...all things that can´t fit into a bag. things
no one can ever steal from you.

so a big F*CK YOU mr. thief. you got me down for a
couple hours, you had me contemplating ending my
dream-trip early but one of the big reasons i came, to
make friends from all over the world, is what brought
me back. they had me smiling, laughing and realizing
yet again that material things don´t equal
happiness...they are replaceable (except the pictures
of course but more on that in a future random thoughts
email...).

in discussing my antics later the final conclusion
about what happened came out from a woman who had a
sweatshirt stolen: the theives saw me scale the roof
and did the same thing about a half hour after me.
but instead of going in to sleep, they went in to
steal things, including my man-purse. another woman
lost a pair of running shoes. i felt stupid but maybe
they had done this type of thing before, maybe it
wasn´t me who inspired them...i hope so. damn shots.

hello, greetings and salutations from evora, portugal.
i have been biking like a madman since i left lagos,
about 220 miles in 3 days. i have seen some amazing
things, including what was for centuries thought to be
the end of the world in sagres, portugal, which is the
southwestern most point of europe. i stood on a cliff
there and saluted you all back in the u.s.a. saying "i
love you america; and i always will be proud to be
an american, but i am loving my trip and i am
meeting so many amazing people, and although i miss
you and my friends and family there i have to listen
to the traveler before me who left that message for
me: DON´T GO HOME."

besides, it´s phil´s (australia) birthday on friday
and i have to meet him, matt (canada) and jack
(u.s.a.) to celebrate in lisbon this weekend. ahhh,
my dreams blossoming smell so sweet.

keep on keepin´ on,
mike

p.s. lots of random thoughts to share with you - look
for another email of them quite soon.

p.p.s. don´t worry about me. i am doing great. i
hated my passport photo anyway and get to get a new
one in lisbon tomorrow! "i get knocked down, then i
get over it, you ain´t ever gonna keep me down...."

p.p.s.s. many of the friends i have made along the
way have taken pictures of the same things as me so i
will just get copies of their shots. like alf, from
norway who is a professional photographer and took
about 8000 pictures in morocco - i think his should
cover that country pretty well!

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