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Mike's Random Thoughts From The Road #3
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yes, yes. time again for one of these. in that last official update i gave you a mere summary of the happenings over here in europa. here is some more meat for you.
1. we amercians are into superlatives. the fastest, the longest, the biggest, the tallest, etc. i think that is sorta cool. i am american and definitely exhibit that trait; show me the deepest canyon, the highest mountain, the loudest sheep. example for you : i grew up about a 2 hour drive from cedar point, an amusement park in sandusky, ohio. every year cedar point builds the biggest, fastest, longest rollercoaster in the world. every year. "that coaster we put in last year? a child's toy. come back this year and we'll show you a fucking rollercoaster." if they already had the tallest coaster they would build the tallest, fastest, steepest one made out of cheese - whatever it took to have the best, cedar point made sure they had it. another example: so you knocked down the world trade center, eh? guess what we are replacing it with? that's right, the world's tallest building. the highest middle finger on the planet pointed right at osama bin laden. i for one love it. so how does this apply to me? there were two ways for me to ride into lisbon, portugal from the south: either via the vasco de gama bridge or the april the 25th bridge. i took the vasco de gama after consulting my guidebook and was apparently not supposed to because cars were honking and drivers shaking their fists at me as if i were driving a tank firing rockets at the city. anyway, later that night i visited my buddies in their hotel room and they asked me how the ride from lagos went. "great. and i'll have you know i rode over the longest bridge in europe." "is that right?" asked jack as he flipped through his guidebook. "oops, sorry dude. it's now the second longest bridge in europe, " jack said. "the new one between denmark and sweden is now the longest."

see you in denmark.
2. there was this chick in fes, morocco from japan. she was staying in the third room on the roof of the pension talaa next to alf's and jamie's and my room. on the day i was bedridden there she kept asking me in my frequent crawls to the bathroom if she could play my guitar. i said "yes" 92 times before she finally followed me to get it. i just wanted her to take it and be gone. when i am sick i am a monster. anyway she took it and then sat on the steps to the bathroom, the steps...that's funny, i mean the damn ladder i had to climb up and down each time i wanted to use the toilet...she played the same song over and over and over again. want a pick to play with? uhhhhh, mmmmmmm, uhhhhhhh, no. i play with my fingers. fine. she played the guitar for 12 hours, never moving to even eat as far as i could tell. later that night as i lay moaning in bed, jamie answered a knock at the door. it was her. she broke a string on my guitar. she didn't just break it, she mangled it. she apologized again and again, i told jamie just to take it and set it down and TURN OFF THE LIGHT! I NEED SLEEP! she insisted on apologizing 7 more times. i want to pay she said. no, i said. yes, she said. no, i said. yes. OK, LEAVE ME 15 CENTS AND PLEASE LET ME SLEEP! she finally left. i wondered how she destroyed a string so thoroughly while simply finger-picking. the next day jamie and i came back to the place at night and there she was in the hall holding garden shears trying to clip her fingernails. uhhhhhh, mmmmmmmm, uhhhhhhhh, do you have any fingernail clippers she asked. i do. come up and i'll let you borrow them. she borrowed them, jamie and i laughed about how she'd break them. several hours later, knock at the door. japanese girl holding my broken fingernail clippers. uhhhhhhh, mmmmmmmm, uhhhhhhhh, i broke them, so sorry. jamie's stomach almost exploded behind me he was laughing so hard. he swallowed his pillow. i was dumbstruck. she handed me my destroyed pair of fingernail clippers and a new pair she bought RIGHT OUTSIDE THE HOTEL. i think she just liked breaking my stuff. i took the new ones and jamie and i laughed for 2 hours. never got her name so she is known officially as "the breaker."

the girl could break a sponge.
3. on an around the world trip you will either lose or break every single thing you bring with you. "the breaker" will get at the shit you don't bust yourself.
4. crawling on my knees i entered the house. i twisted my head and sure enough there was my picture with the words WANTED written underneath my face. "just like the last doghouse," i said outloud. the dogs of europe are on a mission to destroy me. there is a 1000 bone reward for my corpse. they chase me, they bark at me from miles away, they smell me from countries i am not even in yet. just two days ago in ireland i was out in the middle of nowhere wondering where the dogs were when i approached a country house with a big front porch. the two jack russell terriers spotted me and shot off the porch at the perfect angle to intercept me. both of them nipped at my right leg as i tried to speed away from them. they removed the threat (me) from near their property and trotted home. the worst was the fear i felt in portugal when cycling down a deserted road i spotted a pit bull ahead in the middle of the road. i was sure he had my poster in his doghouse and i just about turned around and went 150 kilometers out of my way to avoid him. instead i turned on the jets and rocketed past him. he didn't move. nothing happened but man, the fear that something would made it my worst dog encounter.

i have checked the label 10 times in my biking clothes to ensure they aren't made of sausage. it says "polyester" but i don't believe it. i think "polyester" is spanish for "ham".
5. my mom passed away about 5 1/2 years ago. i miss her everyday and think of her often while on this trip. an older woman was paticularly rude to me when checking into a hostel one day and later when i sat in the kitchen eating canned spaghetti i wondered why. when motherly figures are rude it strikes me as odd. "i mean, i have a mother who loves me, " i thought. "i am a lovable kid, aren't i? i have a mother somewhere who loves me. somewhere." i took the last spoonful of spaghetti and looked down at it and the pieces spelled out the word "ICI", which i immediately recognized as the french word for "HERE".
6. speaking of bridges (random thought #1), one day i was cycling along the coast of portugal about 20 meters from the beach up a road that no cars were driving down. had it to myself. riding parallel to the ocean i couldn't understand why it wasn't choked with cars. then i saw a refrigerator in the road, then a couple of chairs, then a huge sign with an exclamation point and a sign that said "PONTE CAIDO!!!". i knew ponte meant bridge. and when there is furniture in the road and no cars it means something is wrong with the bridge. like it ain't there. caido i figured meant "out" but when i biked 8 more kilometers and came to more obstacles in the road i realized caido meant disintegrated. the bridge and half the damn road were completely gone. it would be a long long road for me to backtrack and then go around so going over was my only choice. i hoisted my bike, panniers, water bottles, sleeping bag, guitar and all onto my shoulder and climbed down the treacherous bank to the river. i stepped back and heaved myself and bike over the 5 foot wide stream just barely making it. i scrambled up the bank, rejoined the road and rolled on down it, having it all to myself singing "ain't nothin' gonna break-a my stride, ain't nothing gonna hold me down, oh no! i got to keep on movin'!!!!"
7. that's enough for now. i should save something for the book. oh, believe me, i have plenty for the book - you are only getting about 25% of the action. if i gave it all to you you'd have all blocked emails from me by now.
8. "i don't know what's going to happen man, but i tell you this, i tell you this: i'm gonna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames." -jim morrison
9. pistons in 6.
there's a leprechaun waving me over to a guinness, gotta go.
keep on keepin' on,
p.s. ask me about portuguese bullfights if i forget to tell you about them later....
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