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#1 Transitions    3/17/03

Back Home

Appointments and ‘to-do’ lists orchestrated our time back home. The list was 5 pages long even before we landed, ranging from the simplest ‘remembering’ of bringing back a larger-eyed sewing needle to the more daunting task of finishing our photo album.

Many chores are ‘hometown only’ tasks, like sawing off the ends of my sunglasses so they don’t hang-up in my helmet straps; sewing a new red rip-stop mini-handlebar bag for my aero bars; or mail ordering replacement gear. And of course, Bill had a long list of computer chores, including downloading software from the internet without paying by-the-minute connection fees. Yes, easy access to the internet; use of our sewing machine; a telephone that always works; and a convenient washing machine make for some revelry while back in town tending to our chores and reconnecting with friends.
     After some wincing at the dentist, the rest of our medical appointments were good-news only. Our dietary vigilance last year dropped both the size of my rear-end and my cholesterol level back down to where they both should be—whew!
     Then I was thrilled with the Costco ophthalmologist’s report that the insect hairs embedded in my cornea last May in Greece had indeed worked their way out on their own, leaving only small, inconsequential scars in their path. And this our third season looks like it will be the first to begin without me recovering from a health crisis (the first year was a very s-l-o-w recovery from a concussion, the second year was a hospitalization triggered by an office medical procedure while back home. Ah, to start our cycling season the way I am usually: healthy.


Knowing where to shop for great food at great prices is one of our “at home” treats. And sharing a language with the clerks creates the all but forgotten opportunity to crack jokes at the check-out stand. Laughter with others is one of the things we miss when traveling as humor is easiest with a mutual command of a common language. Hugs and laughter are among the delights in catching up with friends and family. We also enjoyed meeting for the first time the friend’s of friends that were added to our email list during the year and with whom we subsequently corresponded. Visiting friends gives me a chance to get what a friend describes as her “fur-fix,” which is petting other people’s dogs. Petting stranger’s dogs isn’t ritualized in Europe as it is in the US, so I have to keep my hands to myself way too much of the time.

Hearing of the ‘travels’ of my emails after I launch them is one of the other delights of these get-togethers. I’m always amazed at how many people pass my journals on to others and at the different ways people choose to fit reading these tomes into their lives. There is the friend that sometimes saves them for a soak in the hot tub, the friend that prints them out for reading while waiting for a child at an activity, and the latest, most startling image: the friend that downloads all 8 pages onto his hand-held computer (PDA) for later reading on its 2” screen while in the clean room at work. I was speechless (and honored) by the thought of him reading all 32,000 characters on such a tiny screen.

 Being in our own culture and hometown is comforting and easy. And we felt even more at home with the sight of all-season cyclists darting about in yellow jackets—yellow is a decidedly un-European cycling color. The Europeans definitely go for more dignified or fashionable colors and not the glaring safety-yellow fancied by Pacific Northwesterners. Our roots are definitely in the land of safety yellow, sensible shoes, outdoor wear on the downtown streets, and customer service.

Ah, customer service is a wonderful thing. To ask questions, to ask “What store might have what I am looking for?” and to get problem-solving help from the retailers is a joy we only know in the US. 

We were deeply touched during our many public transportation rides by the City of Portland and its transportation services’ commitment to increasing accessibility to those who are differently-abled. I don’t know how the oversight officials rank Portland’s effort with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, but it looks outstanding compared to what we see overseas.

All of the buses and light-rail trains are fully accessible (and bike accessible); most of the drivers are extremely patient with their passengers needing assistance; and the number of differently-abled people on the streets of Portland is huge in comparison to other cities we visit. It is moving to see a larger percentage of the population included in everyday life. We know from experience that a number of people looking out European apartment buildings are trapped indoors because of the lack of elevators and the difficulty in moving around on the sidewalks and streets even if they are helped down the flights of stairs.

The good news and bad news about being back home is reconnecting with more ‘stuff’. The sewing machine and our remaining stash of Velcro, elastic, cord, fasteners, and fabric give us the long anticipated thrill of sewing new accessories to make life on the road easier. We work on an assortment of little things: a bright yellow sash to increase my visibility; better ankle straps for keeping Bill’s cuffs out of the bike chain; and customizing modifications to purchased garments and accessories.

But then there is the down side to reintroducing ourselves to our possessions, like discovering that the only drill of our collection of 3 that we didn’t sell has died in storage and we now need to buy a new one. Or that I could use one of those 4 bike racks we sold when downsizing to replace the splintering rack on my town bike (“But hey, you can’t save everything”). It was indeed rude to discover that our stuff is still disintegrating even while we are away. And then there was the agony of having our laptop suddenly go on the fritz. After the initial horror and sense of betrayal, we were grateful to be back in the land of customer service where it was relatively easy to do the diagnostics by phone and quickly receive a new battery via Fed Ex.


Our trip back home is a concentrated experience of appointments, visiting, doing chores, and on-going lessons about ‘stuff.’  Both the failures of our ‘stuff’ and the need to get so much done in our short stay let us re-explore our relationship to stress as well. Just becoming calendar-oriented is stressful. Once back on the road, we will hardly look at a calendar ‘til next November when we start scheduling appointments again. Between now and then we’ll keep track of the day of the week primarily for the purpose of making our Sunday night voice mail update and planning our grocery shopping in “closed on Sunday” countries. But while at home we look at our calendars multiple times a day and carefully coordinate each additional appointment with the other person’s calendar. When abroad, our daily time commitments will mostly be limited to getting off the road before sundown and getting on the road the next day early enough so we can again get off before dark.

Another stress that gets concentrated for us is the discovery of additional favorite products that have been discontinued during the last year. The “not to be found” items were Bill’s favorite bike saddle; the best-ever bite valve for our drink tubes on our water bags; the preferred brand of wind-block glove-mitts; and getting the last of our now-discontinued tires. And then there was the last minute discovery that the ‘new improved model’ of cleats for our pedal system was incompatible with the old style spare parts we carry and no new spare parts were yet available. Given the shortness of our shopping spree and the precision with which we have made these gear selections, each unavailable item is a momentary crisis requiring quickly formulating ‘Plan B’ and perhaps ‘Plan C.’

 Each trip back home involves a certain amount of hair-tearing while we struggle to locate specific possessions. We downsized and moved in a hurry 2 years ago and didn’t get really organized (or get familiar with our organization). We have our remaining treasures stored in 2 different locations and we still get a bit confused as to whether the missing item is in the mess before us and we can’t see it, or if it is stored at the other site 10 miles away, or perhaps we downsized it and just don’t remember. The ‘case of the missing bank checks’ was the most disturbing this year, but it took a long time to find the (now defunct) electric drill stored in the box of bike supplies, and a few missing items turned up just before we left town. On one hand it would be nice to stay an extra month to get better organized and yet on the other hand we could spend the rest of our lives preparing for play instead of having fun now.


 The weather was kind to us while back in the northwest and we had many cool but clear and dry days instead of the more common heavy-overcast skies and rain. We took in many great views of the 4 snow-capped mountains that can be seen on clear days and reveled in the great winter weather on our training rides. And the one really awful, too-many-hours-in-a-heavy-downpour-ride turned out to give me some bad news about my new raingear accessory while I still had time to make some modifications at the sewing machine.

  Last year, our first year back, Bill struggled with remembering that the US concept of a red traffic light when driving a car is a command to stop, not just a suggestion as it is in much of Europe. Fortunately, a few stifled shrieks from his favorite back-seat driver (and not the boys in blue) were enough to refresh his memory about local conventions. He was pleased to see that that was not a problem this year but surprised with a new lapse: forgetting to turn the stove off after removing a pan. Yes, for the most part, cook tops are no longer a part of our life experience. So Bill channeled his self-surveillance energy into the kitchen instead of the car ‘til he got that glitch back under control.


Back in Europe

I always marvel at re-encountering the ‘memory pods’ I unknowingly leave behind when I travel:  it happens when I round a corner and remember that just up ahead is a steep hill, a beautiful view, or a place we waited out a thunderstorm. Fragments of memory pods began appearing before we touched down in Europe, even before we boarded the plane: the first were triggered by the sight of Dutch tourists at the JFK airport gate awaiting our flight to Amsterdam.

 “Ah the Dutch.” They made a strong impression on me our first season of cyclotouring as they are avid travelers (like the Germans) and we met many Dutch cyclotourists that year. My experiences with the Dutch during roadside exchanges and when watching the ever-cheery Dutch families in the campgrounds quickly evolved into a stereotype of them as an outdoors-loving, athletic, and determined people. Their kids scamper around the campgrounds in high-topped rubber boots and they seem to approach the world with a zest for life and the outdoors from a young age.

Subsequently, some Dutch have informed me that there is definitely another stereotypical Dutch tourist that is happiest on a sunny beach with a beer in hand. Nonetheless, my eager and athletic version of the Dutch stereotype was rekindled by the people lingering at the gate and further reinforced by the sturdy, girl-next-door look of the bright-eyed KLM flight attendants.

Another memory-pod was triggered as we crossed the Alps on our flight from Amsterdam to Rome. It was crystal clear and the glimmering snow of the sea of mountain tops below us was awesome. But our fascination with tracing the endless peaks and valleys was quickly blunted when Bill pointed out the thick brown mat that lay ahead: it was the pollution of Italy. My heart sank at the sight of the pristine Alpine air soon to be displaced by an endless expanse of smog that backed up against the southern rim of the mountains. I remembered approaching the Alps from the south last year and realizing that though we had ridden in their presence for hours that the view of them had completely been obscured by the pollution until we were only a couple of miles from their base. Sadly, before even setting foot in Italy I was reminded that it will never be my favorite country because of the pollution and litter. Italy has some wonderful places to see and be but its lack of environmental responsiveness keeps it from being a “10” on my scorecard.



Despite the crescendo-ing sounds of war drums, we have continued with our travels as planned (except for by-passing Turkey). We trusted that the Welcome Mat would still be out in Europe as most people in democracies understand that presidents and prime ministers don’t necessarily speak the views of individual citizens. (Like the often repeated line by merchants in China several years ago “I like the American people but not your government.”) But we plan to continue to keep our eyes and ears open and head back if we do not feel welcome abroad.

 It has been “So far, so good” with that strategy. We haven’t felt that our reception in Italy was any different in March with the escalating war talk than when we left in early January. The only change we see is the occasional rainbow-colored banners hanging from apartment windows with the single word “Pace” (peace) across it. The rainbow stripes give the simple and compelling sentiment an upbeat twist that is a startling contrast to the typically grim antiwar messages in the US.


Rome: an unlikely place to encounter American acquaintances.

It’s a Small World

Our first full day back in Europe I found myself saying “I know those people” that I just passed in the Rome Pantheon. The haze of jet lag didn’t get me far enough down the list of “Who could that be?” to figure it out, but the recognition was instantaneous for the woman I approached. Here was a Connecticut couple that we had met in a tour group to China back in the fall of 2000. It was the first tour group experience for all 4 of us and Bill apparently made a strong impression by answering their questions about the birth defect of their then just-born grandson. Of course, Bill immediately had his jet lag fog infused with an unsolicited update on the child’s medical course. They had been skiing in the Dolomites and had just arrived in Rome after 5 days in Sicily. The unexpected re-connection gave us a pleasant lift while still getting used to being back in Europe.

Last year we had a “small world” experience with the Polish cyclists that we only said “Hello” to as we passed at the entrance to the campground in Salzburg, Austria and then shared a campground in Linz, Austria days later. We now regularly correspond with them and hope to see them this year in Warsaw and perhaps someday share a bike tour with them.

Our first year out our “small world” experience was meeting a young man from our hometown in a French campground and subsequently crossing paths with him in a Viennese internet shop and at an intersection in Prague months later despite none of us planning on being in either of those places when we first met. We haven’t kept in touch with him but last heard he was career-building in Portland. Of course, these delightful experiences make us wonder about what must be the dozens of just-missed encounters.

The next day in Rome, Day 2, we had another kind of small-world experience, or more of a ‘small spaces’ one. In hindsight, the tightly packed spaces of riding the Rome metro to the Vatican gave Bill our first known brush with a pickpocket. We have these dandy fanny packs with 2 steel cables running through the straps and across the back of the bag; a Velcro-secured flap covering the strap buckle; and a latch that hooks onto to the 2 zipper pockets. Bill looked down at his fanny pack once on the crowded metro to discover he had left the outer pocket of expendables (eye drops, Pepto Bismol, Imodium) half zipped. A minute later he looked down again to discover that though he had just closed it completely, that the same pocket was now completely unzipped and that the critical, latched pocket was open the inch or so that is possible without opening the difficult latch.

Bill signaled me to be alert, stuffed his hand in his pant’s pocket with his ‘walking around’ cash and used the other hand to cover his fanny pack (leaving him little with which to grip with on the overhead bar). He was sure he had at least lost his eye drops but assumed nothing negotiable was taken. When we were off the train and well clear of the subway crowds he took inventory: nothing was missing, including the eye drops. The thief was not only highly skilled but very selective. Our faith in these nifty fanny packs was reaffirmed and the lesson learned was a cheap one. I really had expected that in our 18 months of travel with these bags that we would have returned home for the night at least once to discover a frayed strap indicating a foiled attempt at slitting the fanny pack strap on some crowded bus or metro but it hasn’t happened yet. This is the first security challenge of which we are aware.


The Ups and Downs of Europe

It only took a stroll through the Amsterdam airport to be reminded of the more casual nature of “No Smoking” areas in Europe, an impression that was reinforced a couple days later with the periodic whiffs of cigarette smoke near the doorways of the Vatican Museums. And too, the there is the arbitrariness that is tolerated in Europe that just doesn’t sell in the States: like kicking us (and everyone else) out of the Etruscan Museum at the Vatican for no apparent reason, being told it would reopen in 2½ hours and then discovering that they only reopened a part of it. It was all done without any posted notices, explanations, or apologies. We noticed another section of the museum that we had walked through earlier was suddenly unavailable too. 

Jet Lag

We are slowly learning how to cope with jet lag, which given that my finely-tuned biologic clock is offended even by changes on and off daylight saving time, is a major obstacle for us. With each flight between Europe and home we are confronted with weeks of foggy heads and days of sleep deprivation.

  Our first year I came armed with as many strategies as I could find: yoga poses for jet lag, acupressure points to use in flight, homeopathy “No Jet Lag” pills, melatonin, a schedule for sun light exposure and scrupulous avoidance of alcohol and caffeine. I used all the recommended techniques and still felt lousy for weeks.

  Then we added a lay-over on the east coast for 3 nights to adjust to the first 3 of the 9 or 10 time zone changes. It should have helped but didn’t clear the jet lag fog perceivably.

   Recognizing that we had 2 problems, not just one, we decided to take a new strategy and primarily confront the inevitable sleep deprivation and worry less about resetting our clocks. This approach has paid the biggest dividends. We napped for a couple of hours after arriving in Rome to supplement the 3 hour sleep-night on the plane. We also decided to lift our prohibition against sleeping pills and used Benadryl as a mild sleep aid. When we start feeling drowsy in the evening and it’s close to a desirable bedtime, we take a melatonin for our ‘clocks’ and a Benadryl to accentuate the drowsiness. We set up a chair, the laptop computer, books and warm clothes in the bathroom so that if one of us awakes abruptly with no hope of getting back to sleep (which always happens in this process) we could stay up until sleepiness returned without disturbing the precious sleep of the other person. When drowsiness returns during reading or we awaken but not irreversibly, we pop another Benadryl to encourage the dozy trend.

   Using a total of 1 or 2 Benadryl's a night has been enough to totally eliminate the tortured sleep we have the first week in our jet lag recovery. Our brains are still a little disconnected feeling from the time change but at least we aren’t adding hours and hours of sleep deprivation to the grogginess. I suspect it will still take weeks for us to feel 100% but more of those weeks will be at a higher level of functioning because of the additional sleep. So now our latest jet lag strategy is Benadryl for sleep and melatonin for our clocks. I’d love to hear your suggestions if you have jet lag coping strategies that have worked well for you.


 In the Groove 

We are enjoying the greater ease that being more seasoned travelers is giving us—and also learning how to build in more ease. Both this year and last we stashed our bikes in Europe to eliminate the hassles of lugging our boxed bikes and gear to and from the airports. (And since 9/11 I imagine the scrutiny at security would be a nightmare.) This year however we were encumbered by bringing the inventory of a small bike shop with us: 4 new touring tires (unavailable south of the Alps), 2 new seats, 2 new panniers, 2 new flexible stems to help us be more comfortable despite not having front suspension, and a hefty bag of bike cables, chains, handlebar wrap and precious do-dads that Bill selected to keep us comfy and break-down free. Oh yes, and extra installation tools to be sent back home.

Bill installed the bulkiest of the gear (the tires, seats, and stems) out in front of the Rome train station before we took the train to Ancona and will install the rest of the gear as we have the time and place for it.


 Yet Another Trip to the Post Office

What better way to ‘culture immerse’ in any country than by mailing packages at the post office.  I do consider myself an experienced shipper--one that is hard to defeat--and our first trip to the post office in Rome went well. I had brought flattened, size-selected and pre-addressed boxes with us from home, complete with covering up every bit of print with brown tape in preparation for mailing gifts to a couple of new European friends. The clerk had little to complain about but did do an ample amount of ‘disappearing’ and extraneous paperwork before helping us, his only customers. (Though my passive-aggressive side couldn’t resist munching on lunch at his service window in retaliation for the clerk ignoring us for too, too long.)  Despite trying our patience with his typical European post office stalling tactics, we considered the trip a success.

A better known experience in Italy.

The second trip to the post office to mail duffel bags and bike parts back home didn’t go quite as well. When I walked in, the clerk’s face was etched with a permanent scowl and she sat rigid at the counter like one of the many Roman statues. I dutifully showed her the box label to initiate the game and she presented the familiar form to be filled out—but she wouldn’t give it to me. All I could translate from the muffled shouting behind the glass barrier was “ten.” “Ten-what?” I didn’t know. I knew calculating shipping costs wasn’t that arbitrary, so it couldn’t be 10 Euro’s. Finally I flashed a 10 Euro bill at her to break the stalemate and she finally gestured that she wanted a 10 cent coin. I was stunned: in all the form-filling-out I have ever done in the US or abroad no one has demanded payment in advance for the form, but indeed that was the first hurdle.

I held my breath as she slammed my box down on the mechanical scale, hoping she would remove her large purse and book before recording the final weight of my package. After disappearing for some time, she seemed a little too pleased to indicate that I had to complete yet another form but in triplicate, which actually meant filling out 3 copies of the same form. I was relieved that a line was now forming behind me as I completed the forms and an exasperated regular customer was rolling his eyes—I was gaining leverage in the situation.

The clerk was a pro at this obstructionist game: she stumped me with another “first” which was demanding the weight of the contents without the box. I didn’t try too hard to suppress my amusement at the total lack of utility of that piece of requested data. Surprisingly, she offered a number and we had our first cooperative experience together.

There was more rustling of papers, rechecking the rate charts 3 or 4 times, retracing the numbers she had written on the forms and other seemingly irrelevant bits of activity but I sensed we were approaching the end of this 25 minute ordeal. I felt a ripple of excitement when she finally she presented me with the shipping charge. But just to flex her power one last time, she carefully and repeatedly reviewed all of the security features on the 50 Euro bill I handed her—something no one had ever done before. I imagined that if I had had suitable coins to present that she would have bit into them test their authenticity.

Though I was tense from containing my impulsive reactions to her rudeness and  shenanigans, I was pleased that the package was on its way without provoking a single “Not Possible” that we heard too often at Italian post offices the first year.


Getting around in Grecian style: on a ferry.


Our overnight ferry ride from Ancona, Italy to Patras, Greece was on a beautiful year-old, lightly-laden ferry with a capacity for 1500 passengers and it was steady as rock. We slept well and had no motion sickness at all--a first.

We were surprisingly calm and undeterred when the clerk on the ferry told us that we couldn’t put our bikes on the shuttle bus between the 2 Greek ports and that there was a huge festival going on so the train and regular buses would be swamped. If we had been in the US I would have panicked, but we weren’t: we were in Europe and southern Europe at that. “No” in southern Europe doesn’t carry the finality that it does back home.

We decided to risk the $30 and bought tickets for the shuttle bus from a different ferry clerk. Bill’s reconnaissance assured us that the bus would be nearly empty. The driver shrugged when we dumped our panniers and I mimed that we had bikes. Bill went back for the bikes and the English-speaking agent said “Not possible.” But before I could even protest the 3 men from the ferry and bus company were arguing in Greek. “Yes!” I knew from past experiences that the balance was shifting in our favor: men arguing about our bikes almost always ended up in us getting our way. We presume that it is because reasonableness carries more weight than rules do in these regions and what we were asking under today’s low-season circumstances was entirely reasonable. Luckily our gamble paid off and we got to use our $30 tickets and made it to the port of Piraeus.


On Mykonos

After a night in Piraeus, we hopped on another ferry to the island of Mykonos. It was here that black electrician’s tape, Super Glue, and a needle and thread were in heavy use as we made the transition from bikes and bicyclist’s “on hold” to bikes and bicyclist’s “on the road.” A few of the many little projects we worked on while back home couldn’t be installed or finished away from our gear or weren’t quite right when we got to Europe. So in addition to all of the bike parts that Bill is installing, we were slowly plowing our way through the piles of other little chores to be done.

Less-familiar ancient Greek pots.

In Rome we worked on the big bulky things: mailing packages and putting on new bike tires and stems. Now on Mykonos while we waited for the fierce, chilling winds to subside so we could visit the historic neighboring island of Delos, we picked our way through the smaller projects: sewing snaps on my new handlebar bag, installing new brake cables, and gluing plastic that snapped off a new pannier. It seems like a slow start to the new cycling season but the unrelenting winds made us scuttle for cover instead of charging out to explore the island’s roads. And we reminded ourselves to enjoy the luxury of time—our travel calendar is long enough that a couple of day’s delay just doesn’t matter.

Greece isn’t nearly so jarring the third time around. The language is overwhelming but we are slowly remembering how to part-it-out so we can deal with it. Some of those funny characters in their alphabet are familiar from our science education but only as symbols in formulas. My mind stammers at using those symbols to build words even though a surprising number are recognizable. If you can combine some recognizable letters with the willingness to toss out a few extra letters here and there you can figure out as Bill did that the Greek word for “exit” is recognizable as “exodus.” And our bits and pieces of other languages make the numbers 1 through 10 guessable. But still the sticking point for us is hearing someone say “Ne, ne, ne” which in northern European countries is clearly “No, no, no” and remembering that here it means “Yes, yes, yes.”

In Rome our picnic lunch entrees featured popping open a couple of cans of beans or on the gourmet days, spooning beans mixed with canned, grilled bell peppers and green olives out of a plastic bag. In Greece, canned beans were scarce and exorbitant, so it was back to yummy canned eggplant or stuffed grape leaves on the readily available inch-thick bakery toast. And Bill is cooing after eating our first homemade Greek salad of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, tangy feta, and briny olives. And of course a splash of our every-ready olive oil and garlic powder topped it off (and next time we’ll remember to buy a lemon for it).


Copies of the ancient Delos lions.

Dora on Delos

The highlight of our visit to Mykonos wasn’t the scenery; the charming white-washed hillside town with narrow, winding passageways; or the ancient history but instead our conversations with a 33 year-old Israeli woman named Dora. Our paths crossed on the 3 hour visit to the very historic nearby island of Delos (of Delian League fame in Athenian history). She initiated swapping of nationalities (a fact we don’t volunteer unless asked), which I followed with “These are difficult times for both of us.”

In talking with her, I realized that I had been slinking around Europe these last 10 days hoping no one would start lecturing us about the impending war with Iraq. And I remembered sighing with relief at the email from our new British friends referring to the “Bush-Blair” affair as I had forgotten that we don’t have to shoulder all the blame for what is going on. The shared realization with Dora that it was hard to be proud as either an Israeli or an American tourist these days lead to an immediate sense of camaraderie.

Dora clearly had a different perspective on the world political scene as she instantly offered her hope that the war would start soon. She was the first pro-war person I had spoken with but I was intrigued to discuss the war with someone not intent on blaming us (my imagined and as of yet unrealized fear.). We were delighted that Dora accepted our invitation to have dinner together that evening so we could continue the conversations. Some of the interesting opinions and tidbits that she shared were that:

-the political parties control the Ministry of Education resulting in Judaism being the only religion mentioned in

  Israeli schools, which she believes only adds to their problems

-she laughs at her mother’s worries for her safety when traveling out of Israel as in Israel she is accustomed to bombs

  exploding on a daily basis

-she is lingering in Greece to avoid being in her homeland when war breaks out and said that she has talked to other

  Israeli’s that are holing-up on other Greek islands for the same reason

-Israel is one of the countries where German conscious objectors can do their unpaid public service work

-she believes that most Israeli’s have given up hope of peace in the Middle East

-she believes that the Arab world doesn’t really care about the Palestinian’s themselves but is only concerned that

  the Israeli’s will desecrate the Moslem holy sites

-she believes that the US’s primarily objective for the war is to get Iraq’s oil


Can't pass-up the ruins.


  We are now on Naxos in the Cyclades island group of Greece, still waiting for the buffeting winds and now rain to subside before beginning serious riding.  We’ll take a ferry to Santorini in a day or 2 and will likely be in Crete within a week.





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