Beirut, Barcelona, and E. coli
Jul 08, 2007
There are little unexpected things you find while traveling the world. In Beirut, US dollars and Lira are equally acceptable everywhere. Cash machines even ask you if you want your withdrawal in dollars or Lira.
There are about a dozen different militias running the country. I was arrested by one of them already. Even after a couple of days, you start learning about them. They're pretty easy to differentiate. The American funded ones have M16s and drive around in shiny new SUVs. Those without American funding have AK47s and drive around in old beat-up Toyotas or Mercedes.
But, of course, the thing that you really notice in Beirut is the craziness. All the time, Beirut is interesting. But I guess that really, I'm just pushing my own limits. Once upon a time, long ago, Spain was very new, very different, and a bit scary for me.
All day in Beirut there are guys with m16s about, and SUVs with sirens roaring zooming on by. Rather than speed bumps, major streets have barricades that you have to slowly zigzag thorough. And of course there is the razor wire here and there.
All in all, it puts you on edge. There are always these reminders that you could be dead tomorrow. And honestly, when you're on the edge of death, you feel the most alive. When there is danger, there is a real rush of being alive.
I understand this feeling. And I see how it can very easily be addictive. I can really relate to my friends who hang out in war zones. And I am certainly tempted to join them hanging out in Southern Lebanon or Iraq. But I've already decided that's not the life I want. No, instead I'm going to pursue a life of art and creativity, trying to setup a permanent Burningman community on our own private island in Nicaragua. (http://www.floatingman.org)
My last night in Beirut, I go out for a nice dinner - a steak, slightly too rare, and red wine. As I'm heading out the door to get my taxi to the airport, Pierre walks in looking a bit dazed and very thin. I'm shocked. I was sure that they were going to hold him for the next 10 years. I guess the heroin just disappeared when state security decided they didn't want to hold him.
I arrive at the airport around midnight, and while waiting for the plane I start feeling a bit bloated and nauseous. On the plane, I just feel worse. I keep going to the bathroom feeling like I'm going to throw up, but am unable to do so. I do some quick self-diagnosis, and I'm pretty sure that I have E. Coli. The steak was indeed undercooked. E.coli is not serious - but certainly unpleasant.
I was only in Beirut for 3 days. I was arrested on the first day, and got E. coli on the third day! *sigh* Beirut is supposed to be exciting, but not quite that exciting.
I'm too sick to get any sleep at all on the plane. I arrive in Barcelona exhausted, sick and miserable. I head over to the convention center to meet my co-workers, and pick up our badges for the 'Bread and Butter' fashion tradeshow. While waiting, I spread my sarong out on the top of the concrete steps, use my backpack as a pillow and try to get a bit of sleep. Scruffy looking, possibly homeless, drug dealers come by and offer me some free coke. I guess that they thought I was one of them.
I got some sleep that night, and still somewhat sick managed to survive the tradeshow. Walking around town with coworkers, all the drug dealers are waving at me and saying "hi". My coworkers are wondering how the hell I know these sorts of people.
I head out to dinner. I'm scribbling notes about the craziness of Beirut, traveling way off the beaten path, and the feeling of being alive when there is risk of being killed. I'm writing about these things while sitting in a place that couldn't be any more on the tourist route: the "Traveler's Bar" in Barcelona. I can't help but compare the two. The fear in Beirut is of death, and violence. My honest fear here is that everyone is going to be totally boring. Does everyone here on the European tourist route go exactly the same places, and have exactly the same stories? An American kid, not too different from the Frat boys in Borat, orders a drink, and then with a gross generalization of 300 million people complains, wondering why Europeans don't like ice. Some young girls sit at my table; they're on a one-week holiday from University. How does this compare to Beirut where one of my roommates was a journalist, one of very few who had photographed Joseph Kony, and another one was a suspect terrorist. I decide that I'll try to be nice - I'm sure everyone is interesting in their own way.
I'm in the bar because there is free wireless internet. But it's doubly boring for me, everyone has the same stories, and I cannot drink because I'm sick with E. Coli.
One more complaint about the tourist route: I'm accustomed to war zones, remote places, and Islamic countries where most hotels are empty. I'd forgotten about, and am unprepared for the drudgery in Barcelona of calling endless full hotels trying to find one with an available room
After the tradeshow, Georg and I head up to the Spanish beach town of Platja d'Aro to do some work together. My E. coli seems to have completely cleared up - the symptoms are gone. But then, on my first night out, I come to a horrible discovery. The E. coli isn't quite gone. I feel fine, up until my 3rd drink at which point my stomach literally starts inflating, I get horribly bloated, and nauseous again. I'm living in a Spanish party town, I feel fine, but I just cannot get drunk. It's a nightmare for a social drunk and partier like me!!
That's the end of my travels. Now it's time to try to move down to Nicaragua to try to buy an island.
Leave a comment! I'm much more inspired to write when I know people are reading.
I always have a small bottle of Colloidal Silver with me when I might run into any type of food poisoning. It kicks it in about 30 minutes. tested tried and true . E. coli, no problem at all.
menno - Feb 12, 2008
Thank you Adam, your writings were very inspiring and amusing. Ive just come back from a 5 month overland trip from Istanbul to Cape Town, I recognise many odd things you describe in your stories. Are you going to post your adventures in your quest of buying island in Nicaragua as well? Lookings foreward for it!
adrienn - Feb 14, 2008
once you buy the island you gonna rent it out?