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Landed in ‘Netland

Trav’lin …

Hey! I’m here. I have landed in a part of these Furrin Parts where I’ll have pretty reliable Internet for at least the next few days. I’ll soon be writing about our recent experiences in the Wayback-Outback. (Most of a week without electricity, running water, news, English, or even wheeled vehicles — oh my!) But for now, here are two observations I penned (computered?) just before leaving the local Big City for Remoteland.

It’s great to be back in touch for a while.


More Unamerican things

Yet another unAmerican act observed taking place right out in public: Lorri and I stopped in a supermarket in the local Big City to get food for our upcoming days in the Wayback-Outback. And there, right in a center aisle — in front of the entire world, children and all — a young lady was handing out free samples of rum. Yes, Demon Rum.

Quite strong rum, too. And good. Something new from Guatemala. Don’t ask me its name. I was too bedazzled by the brazen act (or perhaps the bedazzlement was due to the half-ounce of rum I drank as I ambled through the grocery aisles) to get the brand name straight.

But can you imagine? If any chain of stores handed out free booze samples to random customers in the U.S., M.A.D.D., Alcoholics Anonymous, half the churches in the land, and no doubt at least a dozen other moral busybodies would toss such a crusade, the entire chain would probably be driven into bankruptcy. Or at least driven into multi-million-dollar frenzies of public apology, followed by promises to set up 501(c)(3)s dedicated to curing addiction. For the Children.

Here? No big deal. It’s just life.


Adventures in lingo

One day in the local Big City, Lorri and I had a wonderful guide, Daniel. He drove us hither and thither in his taxi. He showed us the sights, took us grocery shopping, found me what might be the only Internet cafe in the land, and kept us from stumbling into the kind of places where (he tells us) it’s possible to buy — really buy — a young man or woman for as little as $200. (One of those places is the barrio we had to traverse to get to our hostel.)

He also spoke excellent English, which postponed for at least one more day the perils of being on our own with the local version of Furrin.

But we had a couple of delightful confusions. Early on, he pointed out a street he translated as Central Avenue. Lorri, my good Christian friend, misheard because of his accent. “SINFUL Avenue?” she asked incredulously. And I must admit, the street did have that sort of look.

We all cracked up over that. And for the rest of the day “Sinful Avenue” it became.

But the real crackup came later when the eloquent Daniel made his one-and-only English-language error — and a pretty mild one, at that. He was driving us to a vast field of ruins, some of which seemed to have undergone a touch of restoration. He referred to the work as “remodeling.” As we gazed out over acres of crumbled stone, Lorri immediately made some wisecrack that I’d have been far too diplomatic to come up with. Just some remark about it being “one heck of a big remodeling job.” But all three of us doubled over with laughter, Daniel the hardest of all.

Well, if anybody’s going to make wisecracks over language errors, every native we meet will be howling at Lorri and me for the next three weeks. It really wasn’t fair to Daniel. But it was funny. Maybe it was funny in that “you hadda be there” way. But the three of us darn-near veered off the road. (Maybe it was that free rum we had. Oh, but that was later.)

No we are on our own. And we’ll miss the informative, helpful, and eloquent Daniel.

And I should take the time to publicly thank S., an ex-pat who put us in touch with Daniel, supplied us with a local cellphone, and did many things to make this trip not only possible but delightful.


  1. Winston
    Winston February 26, 2010 9:34 am

    Thanks for the update, I’m glad you’re having a good time in the wayaway analog world.

    (I’m totally going to get a ‘sinful avenue’ sign for my front yard now….)

  2. Dave
    Dave February 26, 2010 11:05 am

    I think I’ve figured out where you are. I won’t say it here since you obviously don’t want to say, but perhaps I can help in some way? I lived there a year and speak the language fluently.

  3. Pat
    Pat February 26, 2010 1:25 pm

    Well, I’ve never seen rum handed out in grocery stores in this country, but the generally free-wheeling spirit of your trip so far does bring back some nostalgia for a more relaxed America than we’ve had in the past, oh, 30 to 35 years. And makes me wonder how the U.S. got here from its founding (even though I know that answer).

    We who believe ourselves to be so free, are now one of the most UNfree countries in the world. But as Goethe said, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

    A letter from the latest issue of BHM also has bothered me since I received my copy of the magazine. I found myself agreeing with it, even while I abhorred the reading of it. I felt like the old cliche, “I can talk about my family, but you can’t” — yet I knew that the writer from Russia was correct and I had to agree with him. Frankly it hurt to read it; and it hurts to know that I’ll never see America so relaxed and hopeful again. It was not perfect by any means 40-plus years ago, but the ominous looking over one’s shoulder was not there like it is today.

    I can only hope my son and grandchildren will live to see a new America — after the First Libertarian Revolution.

  4. Jim B.
    Jim B. February 26, 2010 9:42 pm

    If you go wild over rum in the supermarket. Why not check out the Drug Store before you leave, to see what the difference is?

  5. Claire
    Claire February 27, 2010 4:25 am

    Jim B. — Good advice. And now that we’re back in semi-civilisation, that’s definitely in the plan. Every small town here has a pharmacy or six, and yes, I’m told that you can buy all manner of over-the-counter meds that would be available in the U.S. only by prescription.

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