Recent Posts

August 11, 2008

Some advice for my friend?

August 11. Day 42.

What is it about the week of August 11?

In 1999, on August 11 I watched the last solar eclipse of the last millennium from its epicenter, a farm house in the Romanian countryside. Ten minutes before the sky went black, the animals started squawking and running around, as if announcing to anyone who would listen that the apocalypse was coming. Then then they went silent, and cowered in fear. Two hours later, on the drive back to the capital, Bucharest, our tour bus broke down during a diabolical hail storm, on a rural highway surrounded by rolling hills, provoked, I imagine, by the rapid change in temperatures.

As 30 people slept or fretted on the damp grass, I ended up hitch hiking with the driver to the closest city, to get any kind help we could. Our salvation came close to midnight, in the form of Niki, a mechanic who emerged in his silk jammies, curly chest hair peeking between the gold chains draped around his neck. He sold the driver a serpentine belt, and with the last cents in my pocket I bought bread and chocolate from a convenience store to feed the famished tourists. (I'll never make that mistake again. When you have a busload of hungry people, better get double the bread and no dessert. But I was a Californian on vacation. What did I know about hunger?)

The week of August 11 in 2001 I traveled down the Amalfi coast with Miss E, and my wallet was stolen. I still don't know what bothered me more -- losing $300 in cash, all my credit cards and some jewelry, or being stupid enough to leave the purse on my shoulder unzipped. Then, our train stopped for three hours on the moonlit coastline because someone tried to commit suicide.

In 2002, this blessed week, I went to Giglio, an island off the Tuscan coast, with La Sorella. Two nice young men invited us for gelato, and we accepted. The next thing we knew, they were driving us to a remote beach where they were toying with the idea of, I believe the proper term would be, raping us. We kept our cool, telling them them we wanted to go disco dancing first and have some drinks. They obliged, and there we ran as far and fast as we could.

And last year, on August 11 I drove down the West Coast from Seattle to San Diego with my life's posessions. Nothing "happened." But it was, again, travel, and the kind that separates two phases in your life.

Today, I wonder, what will happen today? I sit at a laptop and glance out the window. A chicken is roasting in my oven. The fan is whirring, because it's finally fullblown summer. What a simple, simple August afternoon.

What I asked for today was also simple. Advice for a friend. He's about to travel to southern Mexico to volunteer at a dental clinic for a week, and he's never been there before. I put him in touch with another friend, who's from that region, and asked if she'd be able to meet with him and tell him about the area, answer some questions about safety, give him he scoop on places to visit and interesting things to look out for. She immediately wrote back to say of course she'll meet with him. This way, I hope his trip will be less eventful than my August 11 travels.

Gained: Advice for a friend, and connecting two cool people with similar interests (travel, humanitarian aid, art)
blog comments powered by Disqus