Day 4, June 3
(Dave) It is 5:47am. The morning light is just now appearing over the mountains in the distance. We just left Nafplio - a town full of sights, smells, and stones. The town was truly fascinating - located by the bay and on the edge of a peninsula - guarded on top by an impressive Venetian fortress (which, I might add, had 1412 steps leading up to it). We climbed every last step of it - Chris had a disagreeable experience as a result (I'll leave it to your imagination). But wait - I digress! We're currently traveling towards Corinth on our way to Athens to pick up the last two of our motley band - Matt and Joe. And then on to... Egypt - the land of sun, sand, and sweat.
(Chris) At approx. 6:45, attacked by large German shepard - 2 casualties - both expected to live - Dave continues with 8 fingers only.
(Greg) Following a sign pointing toward Athens (Athends), we turned down a narrow dirt road. We bounced along for about 500 yards when Chris's Cyclopean reflexes saved our lives where the road suddenly ended above a dry riverbed. A stranger who we affectionately call "the Greek farmer with the bloody nose who may have been an angel in disguise" pointed us back toward Athens.
The day became dark and rain began to fall as we entered Athens. The Acropolis was our destination, but first we had to navigate the cyclopian traffic of that filthy city. Disregarding the often conflicting advice of his three back-seat drivers, Chris managed to park us near enough to the Acropolis to walk.
(Chris) (I did a couple of groovy lane changes and illegal U-ies to get us there too.
The marble majesty of Athens (and perhaps history's) greatest ancient shrine broke through the cloudy doldrum of this modern musty metropolis. Reaching for powers tucked deep within (and money belts tucked deep inside our fruit of the looms), we climbed this mount of wonder.
There was quite a bit of renovation underway and scaffoldings sometimes blocked our vantage, yet the pillars remained yet amazing. The theatre nearest the entrance looked newer except for the 4 story arches above the stage. The entrance, once the exploded ruins of a Turkish gunpowder plot, have remained nice since 1500ish and afforded the nicest view of St. Paul's Rock, which we shall talk of soon.
Once inside the entrance-way, we gazed upon the gilded lore of the PARTHENON with its massive columns and peaked roof.
Tourists numbers increased as we walked by it and the Athenean Temple and its rare columns made of virgin statues. It was Dave, I believe, (maybe Sam too) who commented that the Athena Shrine was smaller than he expected from pictures.
Next to the proud banner of Greece was a walled overlook from which the city and the 1st Olympic Stadium could be seen. On the other side of the Parthenon, we saw a very nice theatre of about 100 AD below. There was a museum up there too, where we observed many nude men statues and horse statues and busts and broken pottery and whaleish tour groups and pieces of art broken off of the Parthenon. Outside, we saw a dying kitten and hungry dogs - the rain was light and the Rock St. Paul preached from was ascended.
It was jagged and a bit littered but it was a commanding vantage point and had the feel of the ultra-earthly. Dave and Sam (those wise-guys!) theorized that the cigarette butts might be 3rd class relics - the question remains: Did Apostles smoke?
ONWARD through the underbrush we trudged until the Agora was reached. The equivalent of the Roman Forum (marketplace) gave us the opportunity to spend a few hundred more drachmae and to see an ancient Christian Church, the concert hall of Agrippa (nice statues), and a temple smaller and better preserved than the Parthenon but of a much later date (AD). (Hephestus)
We wandered like the vagabonds we truly are as noontime approached - we had covered 15 miles on foot in a little less than a 1/2 hour (see Tumbleweeds I video - Carlsbad) yet we could hear the voice of THE legendary ORIGINAL TUMBLEWEED MATT CAMERON calling, "C'mon, we're in a hurry!"We drove to the airport. (fade in light, loving soap opera type music and prepare for....) THE REUNION:
(Matt) Thank you, thank you everyone for coming! I just wanted to say a few words of thanks to everyone who made this dream a reality. You're the best!
In case you haven't heard, the reason I am a bit late (there is a first time for everything!) is that Ben, my favorite brother, became, in a sense, my father. Father Ben Cameron. the ordination and first mass were fantastic... but that, my friends is another story.
Another introduction is in order before I begin in earnest. You learned that your friend and mine, Jon "baby face" Carlson has dumped is for greener pastures and that he was replaced by the three Mouseketeers - Dave, Greg, and Joe. Now, each of the original Tumbleweeds (afterwards referred to as the hardened vagabonds) has learned the value of having no woman waiting for us back home (less phone calls, letters, and dumpsville when we get home) but the new Tumbleweeds (afterwards referred to as "the children") each has a, shall we say, lady-friend back home... thereby indicating they are tender and generous of heart and will have a tough time holding up under our "tough love" and abuse. Anyway, please allow me to introduce one of the children: Joe Soos, hereafter referred to as "Zeus" the Greek god. Joe, would you like to saw hello? Insert answer here:
(Matt) Thank you, Joe! On with the log specific. Joe and I left June 2 (after a sleepless night June 1 because I was driving from the ordination with Mary Lou Foley all night and that's how Joe always spends his nights) and we flew, to make a long story short, all night, without sleeping, to Athens. Joe decided not to waste anytime and got sick on the plane. (Head sick, that is and I must say he's a tough one - hasn't complained a bit.)
We met the fellas in Athens airport, stored our tent and sleeping bags, and drove off into the sunset. Actually, we crammed six of us (don't forget one is Bodoh and four are over 6 feet tall) into Hyundai Accent (same size as a Toyota Corolla) and drove our crushed selves into a dumpy park-type circle with street wrapping around and ugly buildings everywhere and ate a feta cheese donut type thing. The other guys said that was the first they'd eaten all day and that that spot was the prettiest part of Athens they'd seen yet. Wow! Welcome to T3.
We decided to try to see some stadium and drove for a couple of hours until we got into a traffic jam, then turned around and spent some quality time getting to know each other and doing a bit of male bonding as we all tried to navigate Chris to the airport. It was great, being with the guys again, laughing, joking, back-biting, snarling, and cursing. Finally, thank Zeus, Chris gave up driving in favor of myself and with Greg's help, I took us to the airport to grab a plane to Cairo.
We played some hacky-sack while waiting for the plane and did surprisingly well. The plane ride, for me, was uneventful. After about 50 hours on 2.5 hours sleep, I can sleep anywhere. Zeus woke me from my state to eat and much refreshed after another hour on the sleep count, I was ready for Cairo. (on the plane, Sam had been fortunate enough to speak with a cute Kiwi and was so generous as to give me his seat for a chat with the girl. P.S. The Grecian girls were arguable the prettiest I have ever seen. Paris (and Chris says Jackson Hole, WY) were the only comparisons. Keep in mind this is on the streets of Athens - not the legendary island beaches.
We got off the plane, minus one canteen, and got through customs easy enough. A girl helped us check Chris' camera and then preceded to help us find our hotel. Next thing we knew, we were sitting in a little circle with a guy who was helping us find a hotel. We told him "otel Sultan" and they smiled, took the phone number and passed it around a few times. When a guy, five minutes later, came back and gave the number to another guy, I got up, grabbed my bag, and the phone number from Greg and went looking for a phone. (Sam was with me.) A taxi driver tried to call Otel Sultan for me on Budget Rentals' phone but was turned down and so another taxi guy borrowed coins from some lady and tried to call for me. This caused a commotion because he was stealing me (his customer) from the first people.
Finally, we had had enough; we agreed upon a price (sort of) and followed a fella to a minibus. We renegotiated the price, almost getting out of the bus, and the guy drove us to Otel Sultan. This was no ordinary drive - first off, imagine hell. Then double the number of people and put them all in vehicles of various sizes. Then have then all remove mirrors, and bang into each other for a few years. Then remove all laws. Then have them all honk. Then add more people on foot that also have no laws. Then the cars must not slow down as they drive through the crowds - Welcome to Cairo.
The driver constantly tried to talk us, in very broken English, into his hotel but finally agreed to let us see the rooms of the Otel Sultan and then would leave us there if we wanted. So Chris and Greg ran through the fruit market to the otel to check it out while we waited in the bus. On the way up the six flights of stairs they saw (enter Chris--)
(Chris) AN OLD MAN in a flowing blue robe and turban. He greeted us with his gap-toothed smile and stubbly face yelling, "AA-OOOOOOO" with has arms raising up and down. I think he was imitating a ghost. Greg and I think he could tell we were new to town and wanted to act weird and freak us out. Greg just nodded and smiled (though in his mind he was saying the famous Gregian quote, "Whoa, whoa.") and I said, "Hey, howyadoin?"
(Matt) They came back to the van, we paid the guy, and walked into the stomach of Cairo. (I'll come back to the fruit market later) We went into the hallway that served as Hotel Sultan's entranceway through the piss on the floor, passed the 1940's elevator (hasn't worked since 1940's that is - dust like you wouldn't believe) up 3 flights of stairs to the lobby. Paid and went to the sixth floor where we were to sleep. We settled in, Greg and I in a room with an Irish girl down on her luck and two bearded fellows we didn't meet till 2am, when they came in to curse loudly, then go beddie bye. The other guys were to share a room with a fella that slept alot, thats all. We never knew about him.
Chris and Joe decided to try to go ahead and sleep and the rest of us went for a little walk to work off the little energy I had left (remember I've now slept 3.5 hours in 57 hours.) It (the fruit market right outside) was unlike anything I've ever see. Chaos and order, filth and food. Bread and fruit dominated the scene. Mostly sold from little carts.
The people were very friendly. People were always calling out Hello to us and "Welcome to Cairo." It was amazing how friendly they were. Most everyone made eye contact with me and would smile and nod if I did. No one had a hard or hostile look in his eye that I saw in the entire city. They seemed to like us. We walked around the block soaking in the sights and sounds (like a backgammon hall - lots of clicking noises and old guys smoking.) We enjoyed the walk but were glad to find our rock-hard beds. (believe it our not, I, Matt Cameron, did not fall asleep right away.) Now I'd like you to participate in a night of Cairo through the ears of Zeus.
(Joe) Although this is my first entry, I understand that the purpose of this journal is to relate the truth about our journey (while myths may creep in occasionally). With that in mind, I would like to comment on Matt's opening words. He said that he's "learned the value of having no woman waiting for us back home." Well, this morning. after admitting that I missed Kathleen bunches, Matt said he's never really missed anyone, BUT that he would like to. He thereby has conceded that while he does not now posses a "tender and generous heart," he would like to.
Now, on with the story. While I can't skip ahead, I have been told that I can back up. Yah, the people in Cairo say Hello to us and "Welcome to Cairo" but they have avoided finishing their meaningless greeting to us. More aptly, they should say, "Welcome to Cairo, the most ungodly place you've ever been." I remember seeing lots of plywood shacks in the countryside of Portugal, but this place... Some of us (Matt) are immediately trustful, while other of us (myself and Sam) are immediately distrustful and skeptical of the locals. While they don't have hostile looks in their eyes, all they want is our money.
The Sultan Hotel had smashed mosquitoes on the wall and a map of Africa with the words "Freedom Africa" written in it. That night, I had no chance to nurse my head cold (which, of course, I got the day I left home.) Sam and I listened to the perverts next to us for most of the night amidst the continual honk of car horns. You see, just as all other humans eat and drink, Egyptians must, by law, honk their horns. At any given second in Egypt, there is a horn being honked. Just as there are laws governing our trip (the writer of this journal has precedence over the reader), the Egyptian must honk his horn. But, of course, everyone but Joe can sleep though them. And they go on all night because the people are up all night.
I can announce though that I am not the only one who can't sleep while the Muslims yodel in the middle of the night. And indefinitely with the progress of humankind - particularly the invention of the loudspeaker - they can broadcast their yodling at an unbearable volume at 4:30am.