Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oval office is a bummer free zone

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I have been in Belfast for a week now and quite a few random things have happened:
I learned the hard way not to refer to it as Northern Ireland and Real Ireland.
Had all my money stolen in the Central Library.
Led to sleeping on the streets and not eating for a few days.
going to church on the notorius Sandy Row just for free food
I excepted charity, despite finding that extremely painful.
Seen almost every mural on Shankill Road and Falls Road.
Have befriended a famous Irish singer who is actually Welsh.
Foudn out CLive Owens is a wanker but Kiera Knightly is lovely.
Been called love by at least a hundred people.
Got offered a ride across country.
Joined an old lady Bible Study.
Eat at Subway
and tripled the amount of Guinness I have drank in my life.
So, I'd say it is on par with any other trip I have taken if not better. :)

Monday, October 6, 2008


They keep 'em comin'

Monday, September 29, 2008

First line of Defense

I promise that when I move to Alaska I'll make sure to look out my window and check if there is a Russian standing outside. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

You probably won't think these are funny...

A friend of mine from Kyrgyzstan created his first Facebook group. He is very proud of it. His name is K-Train. It's not his actually birth name, although that would be awesome if it was....note to self maybe instead of naming my child Thrash I'll name him K-Train.... second note to self-Don't actually have any children or any one the way....not three must stop making plans for mythical babies that don't exist.
The K-Train nickname came around for lack of a good nickname. There were two Kyles in K-14 group. One had been dubbed Frat Kyle... by some girls Sexist Kyle(and occassionally by some minority people racist Kyle). Personally I thought his sexist ways were funny and had to bite my lip when other girls got their panties in a bunch.
My favorite Frat Kyle moment was when he had to compare women in Kyrgyzstan to American women. He got up in front of everyone and said,
"kyrgyz women wash clothes by hand. American women show Lupe how the washer works."
I'm still laughing over that one.

oh, but back to K-Train. The nickname Frat Kyle was already taken, so, it some how became that the other Kyle(now known as K-Train) became Silent Kyle. To be fair he does talk and is quite funny. Just took a while for people to realize it. The first day I met him I so thoughtfully said, Do just not talk or is that you just don't talk to me?" he said he just doesn't talk. Fine by me as long as it not a carol related issue. anywho, Another dude in the Peace Corps and I were talking about how we needed a better nickname for Silent Kyle and Zach(the other dude I refered to earlier) just threw out the name K-Train. I loved it... and can't remember a time since I have called him anything else.
I seem to have gone a bit off topic explaining how K-Train a guy you have never met(unless you are a K-14, Caitlin, or in fact K-Train himself) got a nickname that not many call him.... His Frat Nickname(yes, in reality they were both Frat Kyles) is Nugget...I'm sticking with K-Train unless I ever see him again and I have a couple too many long islands... then I will probably call him Nugget.
What was my point? Oh, yeah so on his group that he started one of the other RPCVs posted some comics about Kyrgyz politics...
If you ever wanted a bit of a view into the place I lived(but never got around to calling home) for a while then check these Comics out:

Find that funny?

Fakin' it

I only start to realize that I know a language when I can pretend that I don’t know the language. The perfect omission of whatever I don’t want to understand. The 10 different ways I can say I don’t understand, or this language is too difficult, or my favorite saying in the language that you don’t speak the language. This afternoon I realized that I can speak Dutch.
I had gone to the beach to enjoy the warm sun and the soft breeze. A combo that rarely happens in a land that is famous for windmills. Strong winds with little to know sunshine is the usual weather. So, it’s no surprise that when a nice day comes around you’ll find every open space crammed with Dutch people trying to take in some UV Rays. I was lucky enough to find a bench in an uncrowned area of the beach. The only place I could have found less crowded would have been to actually go in the water. I went in the water one time my whole time in the Netherlands… never again… The water needs sun to warm up from the winter cold.
I was enjoying my newest Bill Bryson book and occasionally looking up from book to see how the sailing contest across the harbor was going. I looked up and saw a normal enough looking middle aged man standing near by with his bike looking on at the sailing contest. He saw me look up and then said something in Dutch. I didn’t hear him and I wanted to get back to my book so I simply said, “Ik spreek geen Nederlands.”
I don’t speak Dutch… in flawless Dutch.
He asked if I was German. I always get accused of being German. It’s a combo of factors:first me being a big gal and the second I have a bit of an odd accent on my Dutch.
I informed him that I was not German. Ik kom uit Amerika.
I come out America.
“Oh, well you need to practice your Dutch then because Dutch people are so nice. They are always friendly.”
I understood everything he said but wanted to appear I didn’t and still some how not come off as rude.
“So, you should practice speaking Dutch right now.”
I couldn’t bring myself to just start speaking in English which would have brought the conversation to an end. At the same time I didn’t want to admit I know Dutch.
We chatted a bit about the weather and what not. I kept looking back at my book even though I had completely lost my space to imply that I was way more into this book than I was this conversation. He asked if he could also sit on the bench. It was a big bench and I don’t own it so I moved my stuff over and gestured for him to sit at the other end.
“Mooi Tasje”
Nice bag.
Yep, yep, yep. I pulled it in closer to my side and he sat just on the other side of my bag. Actually he was more or less on my bag, crushing my stashed bag of chips I had just bought. This is when I realized he was crazy. Right as his arm slung around my shoulder.
I think crazy people should look crazy. Crazy people that look normal really upset me. Crazy people need to have bad hair, dirty clothes, a weird smell, crazy eyes… I just realized I described myself on a daily bases but it is better to look crazy and just be a little weird than to look normal and be crazy.
I kept trying to look really into my book. Really focused, yet totally looking at what he is doing out the corner of my eye. He clearly couldn’t think of anything to talk about but he wanted to talk to me so he complimented how lovely my hands and feet are.
Out of anything about me to compliment let’s face it my feet and hands are the last things to bring up. As you either know from reading this blog or from being a close personal acquaintance… or even just someone who saw me on the street once-I have pretty big hands and feet.
Then he kept telling me that he lived in the Netherlands.
No freakin’ Duh!
“Oh,yeah? Where?”
I had realized I had the perfect out.
He pointed in the direction behind us. Then said how I could come and visit him. My selective hearing made sure that I didn’t understand that offer. He said it again and I apologized for not understanding what he was saying. I then pointed in the direction in front of us and described where my vriend lived.
Vriend is the Dutch word for a friend that is a guy and a boyfriend. Mijn vriend implies it’s my boyfriend. He instantly stood up with my mutterings of where my friend lives. I was describing an actual friend and where he actually lives. I just didn’t feel like clearing up that he wasn't my Vriendje(affection form of friend that pretty much only describes a boy/girlfriend) When he stood up I instantly said goodbye and returned to my book. Crazy disguised as normal thought he would give it one last go. He grabbed me by the shoulders and was telling me how nice I am and wasn’t it cozy when we were sitting on the bench next to each other. I realized if he was even given half a second he was going to try and kiss me. I became hypnotized by the black letters on the white pages… I avoided looking up at all costs.
He said that it was such a shame that I had a friend, because if I didn’t I could stop looking cuz he was right there.
Yeah, well I have a friend.
Concentrate on the book
He started to walk away and I figure I was in the clear so I made the mistake of looking up. He must have taken that as an invitation because he came back and put his hands on both my shoulders then tried even harder to move in for a kiss. I kept looking at my book and head butted him. Hard
Another clue that he was crazy was despite just getting head butted by a girl he kept trying to chat me up. I was trying to ignore the headache I had coming and not look up. He then felt the need to tell me how nice he is and that he isn’t weird, and I didn’t hear anything after he said he wasn’t weird because in not trying to laugh I had a sudden coughing attack. He moved away for a minute and let me hack up everything I could and then came back one last time and put his hands on my shoulder. He decided to throw away all subtlety.
“Kussen geven”
Kiss Give
“Nee hoor”
No, however I like saying this because it sounds like Nay Whore.
“Ja hoor”
OH, you’re going to call me a whore?
I informed him I couldn’t cuz you never know when my friend would be coming. Soon hopefully.
This finally got him back to his bike he said it was such a pity that he might not see me again. But if our paths cross again and I am single maybe then we could get together.
I blanked stared as if I had no idea what he said and yelled, “DAG DAG!!”
“BYE BYE!!!”
If you are crazy don’t worry…. We’ll meet eventually.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

just God huggin' us closer...

It is nice to see SNL still has it. This is hillarous. If you haven't seen it go ahead and check it out.

My middle name is Space Lynn...

... but it should be awkward.
When I even remotely find a guy interesting or attractive or anything slightly unplutonic I consistanly say weird things. I also sweat alot... I sweat alot regardless but it is uped a bit around a funny/cute guy.
Sometimes my awkwardness gets lost on the Dutch. Don't get me wrong they think I'm plenty weird. But sometimes the little weird things that an American dude would catch gets lost on Dutch guys. However, a little while ago I did say something very awkward and was so obvisously awkward that the dude couldn't have missed it.
I was at a Dutch birthday party. Because it was a Dutch birthday party we were all sitting around in a circle- around a table. My foot accidently brushed against a guy I fancy's foot. Instead of just pulling my foot back a little bit and continuing on with my conversation, I choice to jerk my foot back. After jerking my foot back I yelled at the guy, "I'm not flirting with you or anything! I just have REALLY BIG FEET!"
He has never shown any interest in me.... can't figure that one out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My plans are changing like everyday. I never know where I am going to be when til after it has already happened. So, if you don't know what I'm up to these days in in the future don't feel bad... neither do I.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

She tells it better than I do

For ages I have been trying to tell this one Ellen Degeneres joke but never could tell it so that it was funny. Some people would give me a little chuckle but no genuine laugh... Realize I ahve been trying to tell this joke since I was a pre-teen. So I finally found it on youtube. it's the joke that starts with her at the grocery stor. Please, watch and enjoy. She is great!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Killing girls' self-esteem one soccer field at a time.

My friend annie invited me to come and cheer on her Soccer team last night. I know most of the girls on the team since this is a very small village and there are only so many women in their twenties here.
I was really trying to encourage the team and cheer for them in Dutch.
I didn't think they were attacking enough so I started yelling, "Attack, Attack!" or so I thought.
I was yelling AFVALLEN!
For those of you who speak Dutch you already know what I was yelling at the girls. Don't ruin th suprise for those who don't speak Dutch.
The real word for attack in Dutch is, "AANVALLEN!"
So similar to "afvallen" but so different.
I kept yelling, "AFVALLEN!"
IT drew quite alot of looks.
"What is that not right?" I said with my arms out and a bit of attitude that indicated I knew what I was talking about.
"Are you saying afvallen?"a friend asked quizically.
Afvallen is lose weight. AANvallen is attack.
"I was just yelling at those girls to lose weight?"
"Well I knew afvallen was a real word.
They all started to laugh at me.
Fair enough. Me of all people shouldn't be yelling at a field of girls to lose weight.
I was just trying to help.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

To steal from the great Adam McKay

We're going to Lose this thing
"Stop saying that!" my wife says to me. But this is not a high school football game and I'm not a cheerleader with a bad attitude. This is an election and as things stand now, we're gonna frickin' lose this thing. Obama and McCain at best are even in the polls nationally and in a recent Gallup poll McCain is ahead by four points.

Something is not right. We have a terrific candidate and a terrific VP candidate. We're coming off the worst eight years in our country's history. Six of those eight years the Congress, White House and even the Supreme Court were controlled by the Republicans and the last two years the R's have filibustered like tantrum throwing 4-year-olds, yet we're going to elect a Republican who voted with that leadership 90% of the time and a former sportscaster who wants to teach Adam and Eve as science? That's not odd as a difference of opinion, that's logically and mathematically queer.

It reminds me of playing blackjack (a losers game). You make all the right moves, play the right hands but basically the House always wins. I know what you're going to say " But I won twelve hundred dollars last year in Atlantic City!" Of course there are victories. The odds aren't tilted crazy, but there is a 51%-49% advantage. And in the long run, the house has to win. The house will win.

So what is this house advantage the Republicans have? It's the press. There is no more fourth estate. Wait, hold on...I'm not going down some esoteric path with theories on the deregulation of the media and corporate bias and CNN versus Fox...I mean it: there is no more functioning press in this country. And without a real press the corporate and religious Republicans can lie all they want and get away with it. And that's the 51% advantage.

Think this is some opinion being wryly posited to titillate other bloggers and inspire dialogue with Tucker Carlson or Gore Vidal? Fuck that. Four corporations own all the TV channels. All of them. If they don't get ratings they get canceled or fired. All news is about sex, blame and anger, and fear. Exposing lies about amounts of money taken from lobbyists and votes cast for the agenda of the last eight years does not rate. The end.

So one side can lie and get away with it. Now let's throw in one more advantage. Voter caging and other corruption on the local level with voting. Check out the article here on HuffPost about Ohio messing with 600K voters. If only five thousand of those voters don't or can't vote that's a huge advantage in a contest that could be decided by literally dozens of votes. That takes us to about a 52 to 48% advantage.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Coming soon


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mav where's goose?

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Best of Berlin Culture

I went out into Berlin not knowing much about the city. It had been divided during the cold war by a wall...
I'm done.
I came across the German History musuem which was a great starting point to learn about Germany and Berlin. After I was done I was very hunger and saw there was a bar in the museum. In the bar is where I really discovered the best of German culture with a variety of beers at affordable prices.
I sampled them all... I mean I just wanted to embrace the local culture.
Here is the best of German Culture:

Here is the best of Berlin Culture

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm not flat busted either...

Is there really a button out there that says: THE HOTTEST V.P. FROM THE COOLEST STATE? If there is can I just request for someone to send me one. I don't know how I would reward someone for sending me such a precious gift but I'm going to Africa in a month so I could get you something very cool too. I really need that button. I want to put it next to my pin I got in Finland. The pin is of President Tarja Halonen of Finland. If the conversations I got into because of the pin are any indicator she is pretty popular there. Also, she kinda looks like Conan O'Brien... That might be the entire reason I bought the pin.

I'm so glad Palin is in this Campaign. America is moving forward now. We are finally getting passed our sexist past. Women's voices will finally be heard. Who more represents women than a former beauty queen? All women wear heels with their bathing suits.
McCain didn't pick her just to try and pander to Clinton supporters. He also didn't pick her to try and make his campaign as historically significant as Obama. No. He wouldn't do that because those are ridiculous reasons to pick a VP. No he picked her to show the Country how much the Republicans have changed since Hillary Clinton dropped out of the campaign.
You NEED to watch this:

I found it extremely bold for Palin to compare herself to Truman. Aren't Republicans suppose to be comparing themselves to Reagan? Hmmm.. who is someone else who compares himself to Truman?
George W. Bush.
He has to try and compare himself to Truman because he has nothing left. Truman was realitively unpopular when he left office but history has made him one of the great American Presidents. Bush is just hoping that history can some how turn him into a great president.
Hockey Mom.
I don't know any Hockey Moms but I know plenty of Soccer Moms and I don't want any of those crazy, overzealous, hyper-competive be-otchs second in line to a very old man to become the leader of the free world.

Okay, you might think I was being sarcastic when I said I'm glad Palin is in this campaign. Honestly, I'm not. She gives me hope. Hope that I can someday be running for vice President with viturally no qualifications. It makes sense. If we look at McCain's logic all women are replacable. If Palin can easily replace Clinton... than that means I can some day get up to a heart beat from the highest office.
Education wise I'm as qualified as she is. She holds a BA from the University of Idaho in Journalism. I hold a BA from Michigan State University in Political Science. My school was the first Land Grant university which is a legacy of Lincoln's the first and greatest Republican President.
She was a sportscaster... which just means she can talk about sports. See me I'm a doer, I play sports-all kinds of sports. I'm even so good that I sometimes watch sportcenter and comment on what the sportscasters are saying. I don't just do, I also talk.
If being a Hockey Mom is some great qualification than you should look at what she named those qualifications.
Girls: Piper, Willow, Bristol. Boys: Track, Trig
Well, I don't currently have any children but I plan on naming my future fictious children: Throckmorton, Thrash, and Thor... Those are the boys names... Girls names would be boring family names. But this shows that I too can give children stupid names.
So watch out world Carol Bontekoe is a-comin' Though I don't have any pictures discussing my breasts I have plenty of embarressing photos from my youth. Although, my parents might be smart enough not to release them to the media. Jeez, hope that doesn't hurt my chances...
I'll be 44 for election 2028. I already have more forgein policy expierence than she does. I have to get focused. I only have 20 years to have some oddly named children and to become way to involved in their sports; to learn to read a telepromtor while discussing touchdowns, to get 1100 votes to become a mayor of some hicktown(I'm from hicktowns and love hicktowns-so, personally I would love that job) and then get in less than two years of experience as being a governor of one of the least populated states in the Union... North Dakota, Vermont, or Wyoming get yourselves ready for Bontekoe 2026 Gubenatorial campaign. I mean I gotta show Palin up in some way or the other and I figure going for an even less populated state is the way to go.

I need to be Fair and Balanced so if you already haven't watched her RNC speech feel free to do it now:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

all year round.

When I rode into Berlin I had a 102 temperature. I just wanted to get off the train and find a hotel and sleep through the fever. Unfortunately I don't know German, so I didn't know the word for “main station“. This lack of knowledge led to me getting off at a train station that was “something“-Berlin. For all I know the “something” was German for "suburbs" or "out-in-the-boondocks". I was wondering why no one else was rushing to get off but I figured I didn't have time for questions and grabbed my bike from the rack it was hanging from, threw my saddle bags out the door, and then dragged both parts of my bike off the train. When I left the train station I looked around at all the single family homes and realized I had made a mistake. Fortunately Berlin has a big television tower in the middle of town. It is visible from quite a distance away. I figured with no other guesses on where to go I should try and find my way to the Television Tower. It became my Emerald City. I wish I had had a yellow brick road to follow. It would have been a lot easier. I kept dead-ending and ending up on little back allies. Sometimes I would take a turn and lose sight of the tower and start getting all panicky. Also, the whole time I was dragging around my bike halves, and had that aforementioned fever.
When I reached the tower it wasn't exactly the hotel/hostel ridden place I had been hoping for. There was, however, a mall near by. I really don't care for malls in America, it is honestly because I can't go to one in the Netherlands that I get so excited for malls in other countries. Inside the mall I was able to get a directory of hostels. I had sweat through all of my clothing and was in desperate need of fluids. The girl at the information desk in the mall was looking at this disgusting looking creator and quickly showed me where the nearest hostel was. After walking around the tower lost for about another hour I eventually found the hostel and checked in.
I should have just taken a shower and gone to bed and slept through the fever. I was unable to do that because I had passed a certain store on my way to the hostel. I was in Germany and I had seen the store. It seemed like fate.
The next day I asked my friend Caitlin to guess what I would go out shopping for despite having a fever. I gave her the clues that I was in Germany(so a German specific thing) and it was a piece of clothing.
She sarcastically typed back that I had bought ladderhouzen.
I pushed her to put in an honest effort. Think German and my FAVORITE article of clothing. The one thing I will wear all year round regardless of weather.
She knows me too well. Yes, I got a pair of Birkenstocks in Germany. I didn't buy myself a lot of souvenirs but this was one thing that I really wanted. I got the only pair that fit.
On my way back to the hostel I bought some orange juice to get some vitamin C and some fluids in my system. I couldn't go to sleep now-Birkenstocks(!)- I wanted to embrace German culture. I went and got a pair of socks and put them on and then put on my Birkenstocks. Now, I was ready to really experience Germany.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I need to take an intermission here from my cycling story for a quick Public Service announcement.

I don't like being treated like I'm dumb. Whether I am dumb or not is irrelevant. I don't ask for much in life but I do ask, "Please, please don't insult my intelligence."
With that said I have to say one more thing-John McCain how dare you! How dare you insult my intelligence so. I am truly hurt.
I haven't been this hurt since Dub-yah took South Carolina and turned Republicans against McCain. I was little Miss Republican back then. I had even bought myself an elephant key chain. .
When John McCain dropped out in 2000 I took that key chain off my bag and threw it away. I never thought I could trust or believe again.
I know that was a bit dramatic but I was a 16 year old who was really into politics. People collectively making a bad choice upset me. Still does. However, this new hurt- hurts worse than 16 year old Carol's pain, because this time it comes form McCain himself.
I just want to point out something... cuz honestly maybe guys never really realized... NOT ALL WOMEN ARE THE SAME!!!! You can't just throw one out there and say good enough!
This has nothing to do with Palin or Clinton's politics. Neither one was every my pick for president. Wanna know why that is? It's because even though I'm a woman I don't just blindly vote for any woman on the ballot. That is insulting sir. Women, are we really this dumb? Why haven't we stood up and said, "This is just absurd."
When you look outside of their reproductive system these two politicians have virtually nothing in common. Yet, somehow having her on the ticket is suppose to pull all the sen. Clinton supporters to McCain. They should be viewed not on the woman factor but on the political factor. On what they stand for. Women if you were planning on voting for Clinton and now you have switched over just because McCain put a woman in there for his Vice President than I have to say shame on you too. Shame on you for feeding into irrational women stereotypes. Because no one who wanted Sen. Clinton should want Gov. Palin, Just as I believe that Gov. Palin supporters shouldn't be voting for Sen. Clinton.

However, I haven't heard a lot of women changing their tune because of McCain's VP pick(which gives me some relief), it has mostly been middle aged men. Really guys? Grow a freakin' pair! And get over your Naughty Librarian fantasy.

Okay, phew... just needed to vent for a minute. Now back to the ramblings of Carol Bontekoe, Europe and a bike.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Won't remarry...

My bike eventually broke in half. Literally it has two halves. Right now it is just being held togther by the chain. This happened a little after I had biked 1300 kms and a little before I had reached Berlin.
I put my broken beloved on the train and brought her to Berlin(her name is Elizabeth.. after the first one not the second one... to be honest I don't know that much about Queen Elizabeth2 she could be fine but I have read so many books about QE1 that she is one of my favorite historical figures.... yes I'm dorky enough to have a favorite historical figure)My second day in Berlin I found out there was a big bike shop just around the corner from my hostel. When I brought her in they at first didn't notice she was broke in two and were like what is wrong with it and only looking at the tires. I finally pointed out that there seemd to be two distinct parts to my bike. They stood up and looked at me,
"It is destroyed."
"You will never ride it again."
"Can't you just weld it?"
Blank stare... mimed welding...
"No, it is broken forever."
This would have been the time to say," fine. fine. Take her and throw in the back with the other junk," but I didn't. I said, "Well... alright... so uh ya can't fix it? right... okay... danke... bye..."
I couldn't let her go. I ended up taking her by train all the way to Lieden, which is actually further than where I live. They wouldn't let me take it to Noordwijk, which is where I spent my last couple days of my trip. When my friend Lauren came to pick me up she had forgotten the bike rack. I had to leave her in Lieden for an extra week. I then had to spend 20 euros in I'm an American... I mean gas... to get my bike back home.
My friend Caitlin kept encouraging me to dump her and get a younger, cheaper, newer model. I just couldn't do it. we had been through a lot and I couldn't dump her right at the end. This is when Caitlin pointed out and I had to agree that if I ever get married I probably wouldn't marry again after my husband died. I just can't replace things I love with a lower quality model.
Elizabeth and I are both back at Rinia State in the Netherlands. And she is sitting in the barn. she is begging me to take her to the bike repair place but I can't. What if they also tell me that there is nothing that can be done for her? I just couldn't stand to believe it is really over for her. I would rather have her in the barn and hope that she can get fixed than at the bike shop and know that she couldn't be fixed. I mean look at us we had one hell of a ride together.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

That doesn't come with the room

I am sure that Poznan, Poland is absolutely lovely. I will probably will never know for sure. I spent two days there and only saw a chunk of it.
My first night in Poznan I walked about a mile to Roosevelt street and had to go down Franklin alley to find the Internet cafe recommended to me by the receptionist. That was the farthest I made it from my hotel. That night I wrote my little blog entry about ticks-how I don't know what they do or if I even was bit by one cuz I didn't know what they looked like. Don't worry I have now received more than enough info on ticks. So, please no more. After having spent an hour reassuring Caitlin and Shawn that I was fine I had to get off the computer. My back was hurting like I had only every experienced a few times in my life, I was having spasms in my back, my stomach hurt, and I was starting to sweat-alot for just sitting at a computer. I said goodbye and made the walk home. I was shivering. My jaw was on the verge of locking I was shivering so much. Yet there seemed to be people dressed in t-shirts and shorts and they seemed fine. I thought they are even crazier than me.
When I got back to my hotel roomed I collapsed into my bed. I was unable to stay there long since my body had decided it didn't want anything in it.
at all.
My body decided it was going to try and sweat out everything and if that didn't work more drastic measures going in two opposite directions would be taken.
I honestly don't know why I suddenly became so sick. I think it was the power of suggestion. I was only kinda sick before talking to Caitlin and Shawn and then they were telling me how sick i could become from a tick bite and within the hour I'm crawling from the bathroom floor to my bed. If it's not that than I have to admit I did drank some very questionable water. On a few occasions. But come on I drank tap water in Kyrgyzstan I just thought I could handle all water everywhere.
The next morning I had to force myself to go down stairs at 10:55, to beat the check out time, and ask if I could stay another day. Since the hotel was virtually empty I was allowed to stay.
The cleaning lady was unable to clean my room since I never left. At about 4 in the afternoon I ran out of toilet paper. For a while I would just take a shower after everytime but that got to be too energy consuming. I realized I would have to go down stairs and ask for more toilet paper. I was not looking forward to it. I didn't like admiting I had gone through that much toilet paper and I looked like crap. Despite having had several showers I still didn't look clean. I especially didn't smell it.
The women at reception didn't speak the best English but I felt Toilet Paper was pretty straight forward.
I laid my head on the reception desk
"Can I get some more toilet paper?"
"Toilet paper?"
I decided to stand up striaght and make eye contact.
"Toilet Paper."
"ah, yes. You can go out here to the kiosk and buy some there."
"The kiosk on the corner sells it."
"You don't give it for free?"
"No, you can buy at the kiosk."
I stood there and did that half twist movement when you can't decide if you are going to start walking in another direction or just stand there. My mouth was open and I appeared to be trying to speak but nothing was coming out.
I took a step towards the door and realized I had no money. I also realized that this was kinda of an expensive hotel and it was not that nice and I should get some toilet paper with the room.
"I'm sorry. I'm not going to go buy toilet paper at the kiosk. Doesn't it come with the room?"
We stared at each other for a minute
"No. no... I'm not buying it.... TOILET. PAPER."
I then moved intoa squatting position and motion as if pulling a roll of toilet paper and then tearing it off the roll. We still stared at each other. I had to take it one step further. I showed her the imaginary toilet paper in my hand and then had to motion towards whipping my butt.
"OH, THAT! Toilet paper! Yes, yes of course that come with the room. We can of course get you some."
I was very proud that I didn't cave and just buy some but stood up for my rights for free toilet paper. I had to follow her down a long hallway to get my free toilet paper but it was worse it. All, I could hope was that I got healthy enough to continue on before I had to ask for another roll.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Some photos of me in Poland

My keychain for the hotel I was staying at had a beer bottle openr on it. The Poles know how to party!

Me looking beautiful(only in the face so too bad it gt cropped out) in one of the beautiful parks in warsaw

Me near old town. Really beautiful I just missed it in this photo.

Treating myself to some sushi.

And a Margarita(Note for Hondo people it was not a virgin Margarita... note for everyone else I appologize for this blatant inside joke)

Liked that the name of this town looks like Lazy and I was rockin' out to Bohemian Rhapsody when I rolled in.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Worst first day of work ever...

One of the nice things about bicycling through the Baltics and Poland was they aren't that developed of countries. I don't mean in any kind of backwards sense. I mean that they have trees and even sometimes enough trees together to constitute what I would call woods-also known as forest. After living in what is probably the most developed country in the world it was nice to go cycling a long treelined roads. The Netherlands really doesn't have a lot in the way of woods. In fact wildernis is so precious here that they publish several books on where to find it.
One day while cycling along a highway that cut through some of these elusive woods I saw a girl standing near the road and crying. Though this would be an odd sight regardless I found it particularly weird since I was about 15kms from any town in either direction. She had on what would barely be considered clothing and was wearing high boots with a high heel... often reffered to affectionately as hooker boots. She really did appear to be in some kind of trouble. I figured she must have had a fight with the boyfriend or whatever and he was like, "fine walk your ass home," and then let her out of the car.
I stopped and tried to speak to her. She was saying something, but I really didn't understand. Hell, for all I know it wasn't even Polish. All I know is I didn't understand her and she did understand me. I tried to explain I could bike into town and get her some help or if she was going to walk and didn't want to walk alone I could walk with her. Whatever, I was just trying to help. She was waving me off. The tears becoming more rapid. I really didn't know what to do and since nothing that I said was making her stop crying I gestured that I would be leaving. She gave me a look that seemed to say, "It's for the best."
While cycling I thought how odd that was. I wondered if even if we could have spoken to each other if she would have let me help her. Who did she piss off to get left in the middle of the woods next to a highway? When was she left there since that didn't seem like day time clothing to me. I then spotted another girl a couple kilometers down. She was also very skantly clad. She wasn't crying or anything. She appeared to just be chilling on a stump and texting. But why was she in the woods? Why was she dressed like a skank? Maybe that's just how Polish girls are.
I dind't pull over for the second girl cuz what could I say? Also, she seemed to be fine with whatever her situation was. I continued biking and then saw another girl about a kilometer away. This girl had the least clothing on of the three girls that I had seen. I started to grow suspicous and started thinking all of these girls were some how linked. By the 4th, 5th, and 6th girls dressed in near nothing sitting next to the road I realized these were in fact prostitutes. They must be there for truckers on the highway because they aren't near any towns. Also, how odd to have your job be in the woods. I guess when it's nice out it's not too bad of a location. You can do what prostitutes 2-6 were doing: sitting looking bored and texting.
It began to dawn that it might ahve been girl #1s first day of work. That would explain the crying and the genral look of disspear where as all the other girls appeared to be pros. I couldn't help thinking, "Man your first day on the job as a prostitute in the woods for truckers. That is one hell of a first day."
I'm glad I was on my bicycle because if I had seen the girl next to the road crying I would have really freaked her out. I would have insisted she get in my car, ushering her to it. I would have then pointed as to where we should go and would have been really bubbly and cheery to try and get her to calm down. She probably would have become very panicked and really freaked out and since we don't speak the same language I would have thought she was crying about the jerk boyfriend that left her on the side of the road while she would have thought I was making some kind of list of demands. So, yeah good thing I was on the bike... or I would have made an already bad first day of work worse.... just by trying to have some midwestern hospitality.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nun down

I can't describe how hard the wind was in Poland. I took some photos that I hoped would show it but they aren't even worth posting now. When I was getting some groceries before leaving Konin I wasn't sure if it was actually as windy as I thought or if I was a big wuss. It wasn't till a few days later when I finally got an English Channel (Sky News... It blows... only thing worse than CNN Headlines)that I knew. The weather man was all happy and giggles and as he scanned over the European Continent, "Oh, and it is extremely windy in Central Poland... and in Belarus...."
I stood up and grabbed the television.
I sat waiting for them to go back to the weather. When it eventually came back on I was on the edge of the bed about a half a foot away from the television, ignoring the fact that my mother had always told me to sit at least 3 feet from the television. Any closer and I would go blind... That is what I believed for a very long time.... But back to the weather.... Blah blah blah rain over all of England blah blah rain in Scotland too...blah blah of yeah Ireland has rain too... blah... to the continent it is really hot in the south blah... and then he laughed and said, "There are some gale force winds going on in Central Poland right now." back to blah blahing. I don't know what a gale force is, wait let me wikipedia it....
They didn't have anything.
I'll google it...
Found it on

A very strong wind.
Any of four winds with speeds of from 32 to 63 miles (51 to 102 kilometers) per hour, according to the Beaufort scale.

Well, now I know what a gale is but I didn't when I heard it on the news. I only had heard it from Owen Wilson in like every movie he has ever been in... look for it.. he likes to mention a gale blowing in a lot of movies....
It was nice to know my struggle against the wind was a very really one. These winds were so strong and I was going the completely wrong direction. If I had been biking from Berlin to Warsaw I would have claimed it was the best biking of my life. Since I was gong the wrong direction it became some of the most challenging. I had to peddle going down hill.
Down Hill.
Had to.
The bike would have come to a complete stop if I didn't keep peddling. I would be struggling to go down hill while I watched old ladies on bikes whipping up the hills in the other direction, big smiles on their faces. I believe there are few things in life that are more frustrating than that.
So, when leaving Konin I stood at a an intersection with my bike walking for a little bit- at least until I got some cover to get back on the thing. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a nun walking. Poland has lots of nuns and they are everywhere, just walking around, doing God's work. I have to say I don't have any memories of ever seeing a nun in the flesh in America, especially not with the outfit. So, naturally when I see a nun it grabs my attention. I could see that she was blocked from a majority of the wind by a building. I thought when she gets past this building that wind is going to hit her hard. And the gale did not fail me. The wind knocked the nun right to the ground.
I just stared on. It was one of my worst humanitarian moments but I was across the road, shocked to see a nun in the first place, and I went into an even greater shock to see a nun on rolling around on the ground. There were about nine of us who were in the general area looking on. No one moved. Were the others also Americans not used to seeing nuns and had been thrown into a temporary shock? Or was this a normal site for the Polish-a nun on the ground? Either way it took her sometime to regain herself and get back up, this time bracing herself against objects that could stand up to the wind.
If you ever question if it is windy and you see a nun rolling by like tumbleweed in the prairie the answer is: yes. Yes it is windy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Naked Truth

I arrived in Konin, Poland incrediably tired and warn out from facing some of the strongest winds I have ever seen. There was also a lot more hills than I had faced before on my trip. Not only had the quantity increased but the height. Tired, hot and sweaty all I could think about was getting all my sticky clothes off of me and hopping into the shower. So, natutrally that is the first thing I did after arriving at my hotel. Okay, well actually the first thing I did was check if there was an English channel. When I realized there was I settled for King of Queens in Polish. I then hopped in the shower.
Because I had my own private room I decided to just enojy not having clothes on for a while and was walking around my room naked. I also did some stretching naked, hung up my laundry naked, and sat watching the second half of King of Queens naked. The entire time I was in Poland it was incrediably windy. I heard my bathroom door getting bang around from the wind, I even looked back and only saw the bathroom door open. So, of course I thought nothing of the continuous bang door sounds behind me.
While during some naked Channel Surfing I heard some very loud Polish people talking. It seemed as if the voices were in my room. It was a man and a women and they seemed to be yelling about something I ignored it and continued to look for my next American show to watch in poorly dubbed Polish. When the voices stopped I heard my door bang shut. I looked back my door was shut... so why did I hear it bang shut? Must be the bathroom door. Continued on with my naked activities: naked, naked, naked...
I turned to go grab a bottle of water for some naked water drinking when I saw the door to my room was wide open. I hadn't locked it but had assumed when I shut it it would stay shut. I hadn't even considered that the wind was so strong that it would blow my door open. That's when I realized the voices that sounded like they were in my room... must have been in my room! Though I didn't understand what they were saying before I realized it must have been Polish for, "Hey Dumbass your door has been blown open and you are totally naked! Put on some close or lock the door. Hey! Hey are you deaf? You go talk to her. NO you! Let just shut the door!"
This is why I don't make it a habit to walk around naked. I always say its cuz I grew up with too many people in my house- you never knew who was going to come in. But now thousands of miles from home, while embracing the European spirit of nakedness, I completely showed my ass. At least I was doing some calf stretches.... I mean there are worse pstretches that Polish couple could have seen me doing... Standing hamstring stretch is one that comes to mind.

The philosopher

To be honest despite all my travels I had never truly traveled alone. I always wanted someone there to experience all the new things with me, someone to take photos of me, and most importantly someone to talk to about... whatever...just be there so I wouldn't forget how to carry on a conversation.
Most of the time during my bike ride I would stay in these little towns where I had to stay at the one hotel in town. I might do a little chit chatty with the receptionist or maybe with a couple people around town. However, for the most part these interactions would not have been considered conversations.
In the Baltics I occasionally stayed in hostels. The crowds were a bit different than the usual crowds at hostels I stayed at before. To begin with they were considerably older and almost always all men. On a few occasions I got an entire women's dorm to myself because I was the only woman.
When I arrived in Warsaw it seemed the perfect place to strike up a conversation. It was by far the most cosmopolitan place I had been since Helsinki. Also, the hostel I stayed at the people seemed a bit younger.
At the hostel there was a bar that at the assigned happy hour has ridiculously cheap beer. This was the place to have a conversation. I took a book with me just in case but I could feel conversations filling up in my head that I was going to have with people. The book would just become a prop for my dialogue. I knew it...
I went into the bar and ordered a beer. Was told it is even cheaper if I ordered two, so I made plans to come back and get one after the one in my hands was done. There were four tables in the bar, 3 of them full of people from all over discussing their recent travels. There was also one empty table. I took a spot on the edge of the empty table and sat near a group of young Brits laughing and joking very loudly. I sat with my beer and would laugh at their little quips. Nod in acknowledgement of some place that I had also been and would also refer to as a "shit hole". There was the hope that someone would notice how cool and interesting I looked, despite being really sweaty and in clothes that hadn't been washed in a week. When no one noticed I got another beer, did a little chit chat with the barman so that maybe one of the little groups would notice I speak English. When I sat back down with my second beer I realized no one was going to include me and I didn't have the initiative to include myself. So, I slammed the beer and went and watched a Zombie movie in the park by myself. And I got a Doner Kebab... It was actually a pretty good night.
My second night in Warsaw after spending the entire day trying to get my bike fixed and than back to the hostel(for the record you take the wrong way in Warsaw and you are suddenly facing some mighty big hills to climb in order to get home) I knew that it was now or never for ever having a conversation again. If I didn't have one today I would never speak with anyone again. I don't know why my mother always tells me I'm a tad dramatic...
I entered the happy hour with the exact amount of money for two beers. I made the same deal with the barman that I had made the night before. I took my one beer and my book and turned to find a seat. The same three tables had people chatting and laughing and the table that had been empty the day before had someone sitting at it. Nice looking guy, looked about my age, sitting alone with a beer and a book... he officially had a red bulleye on him as my conversation target.
"Can I sit here?"
He looked up and had a big smile on his face. It was that kind of smile that says, "Yes, Yes thank god I don't have to sit alone any longer."
"Ah, yeah... sure."
He closed his book as I sat down he wiped one hand on his jeans, grabbed his beer with the other hand, smiled, and inquired, "So, see anything interesting today?"
"Ugh, I guess but I had to run all over town trying to get my bike fixed...." I said it in a gruff never speak to me again voice. I than picked up my book and started reading it.
Not actually reading it of course. More holding a book in my hands, having an intent look on my face, while thinking, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! HE CLEARLY WANTS A CONVERSATION! GEEZ PERFECT INTRO!!!! COULD HAVE TOLD HIM ABOUT THE PHOTO EXHIBIT I SAW!!!!! AHHHH SO STUPID!!!!!!"
He waited for the conversation to start for a long uncomfortably long time. He took some pulls on his beer, looked around, sighed made it clear he wasn't that into his "Europe on a shoestring" book. After a while he looked me up and down(this is how not reading I was I totally knew what he was doing the entire time) and went back to his book. After 15 minutes of silence between us, both of us only looking up from our books to look at the people laughing at other tables, I decided to just stop being such a lame wussy and say something.
"So, ah... did you see anything interesting today. Or, ah, do anything fun?"
There was that smile again, but I noticed this time when he shut his book he left his finger in it in case he needed to come back to reading the book quickly.
"Oh, ya know Warsaw is just another big European city, they are all kinda the same aren't they?"
"Yeah, but with little differences you gotta go looking for what makes the cities unique."
"Well, I'm thinking I'm going to have to head back up to Estonia because each city there was unique."
"Oh, yeah ?I loved Estonia."
"Oh, you have been there..."
Houston we have lift off...
I was engaged in a conversation. We chatted for an hour or so by ourselves. Than eventually a woman from the table next to our interrupted because she had heard me speaking to the receptionist earlier about where to put my bike. The girl from the next table wanted to know how it was going on a bike and did I like the book "along way around" by Ewan McGregor. It took a while for us to get on the same page that I was on a bicycle, not a motor bike.
This revelation that I had pedal biked from Helsinki suddenly gave me street cred. The crowd in the Warsaw hostel was considerably different from a crowd you would find in a western Europe hostel. Most of us had traveled through the Baltics. Some had come up from the Balkans. Others had seen all of Poland. It was an interesting group. However, they had all come by train or bus so my bicycle some how made me that much more ambitious and courageous and interesting. Most of all I found some how it made me in there eyes a much deeper person. I'm not deep, I'm not philosophical and before that night in Warsaw I had never been confused as being deep. For reasons beyond me I went with it. I took my new role as this deeply philosophical woman that they will have met in Warsaw.
It was all going well until I found myself say, "Yeah, ya know in a bus or train you see the places. But on a bicycle... oh, man on a bicycle you feel these places. Ya know what I mean?"
They all nodded that they recognized what I was saying. The problem with that is in my head I was thinking, "No. no I don't know what you mean? How are you feeling the road Carol? Is it in the sore butt or the sweat rashes, or the tick bites, or the random rashes from random plants you have never seen before? what are you feeling?"
This is when I knew it was time to get to bed. It took me another hour to pull myself out of the conversation that was now involving about 10 people. It was fun playing the philosopher, but it's not me. I could only hope that someday these people would have a friend who tells them what I will tell you all now:
Just because someone is on a bike it doesn't make them any deeper than the next person. It just means they're an a-hole who can ignore huge amounts of pain in their a-hole...
See if I were deep I would have found a better way of saying that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rappers or Republicans

I know I should be writing more about my trip, but this is so freakin' funny. You need to check this out.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Walk away

I saw a guy today listening to a walkman. Like a proper Walkman. Remember those? With a tape cassette and everything. He was just standing there. Doing a little knee jiggle with the music but otherwise not aknowledging this archaiac music listening device. I would talk more about this but my record is skipping and I should go take care of that.

So I don't forget...

I did my best job chatting with people in my hostel. I ended up talking with an interesting Irish girl who didn't realize that without my trying I was totally impersonating her accent. She told me that she can't stand reading Irish history because it is so bitter. Irish history is like sucking on 10 lemons. "ooooo I hate the british suck on a lemon!"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I know I need to write more. There got to be so many stories and internet costs a lot and it wasn't always available so I just stopped writing. Story of my life. I'm back in the Netherlands ow enjoying the last few days of my holiday. I'm down on a beach in Noordwijk. I thought, "Oh, I'll chill on the beach and go swimming and read... That'll be nice after a really crazy trip across the baltics..." Well, the wind here is insane... The sand was actually cutting into my leg. So, I guess I'll be taking the cheap shuttle up to Amsterdam tomorrow and seeing how it is Friday. I really do have some crazy stories from Poland and Berlin... PS I know most people dog on Berlin but I like Totally loved it! I did stop by Hamburg, another crazy story. Took a picture of me eating a Hamburger in Hamburg but there is nothing that shows it is Hamburg... so you'll just ahve to take my word on it. It was a crazy but good trip, glad I made it in relatively one piece...even if my bike is in two.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Let me know...

What do you know about ticks?
Cuz I don't know anything. But I got bit by like two bug lookingish things. and like they were like stuck to my leg tight and I ahd to pry them off and then where they bit wouldn't stop bleeding for a long time. I didn't think anything of it till I read ion a Lonely Planet there are lots of ticks ion Lithuania and that is where I got bit while walking near some woods.
so, ah let me know...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The ride must go on...

I just got my bike back from the shop... it's still making a LOT of noise....but not quite(my face is squished when I say that) a much as it was. I have decided to keep going. I want to ride into Berlin and I have less than two weeks in which to do it now. I gotta keep trying. however, if it breaks down again I don't know what to do Warsaw was my best hope of getting my bike fixed. hmmmm... oh, well I'll just keep on pedaling.

Friday, August 1, 2008

WAR...SAW ugh what is it good for?

I am in Warsaw, Poland right now. I have been here since the wee hours of the morning. I had no choice, my bike needed to be brought to the city for immediate attention.
Yesterday when I went to buy a ticket I went from window to window asking if anyone spoke English or Russian.
No one. Seriously? Do these people never leave Poland?
I finally was reduced to trying to get the ticket that I needed with no language between me and the ticket agent. I was genuinely hurt... I have put in the effort to learn two different languages and I speak the international language of the world and these women couldn't be bothered to learn a little English or at least a little Russian? What were they doing during those Soviet Block years? Unless they are younger than they look... I mean... Lets just say whatever one is thinks... Slavs don't age well...
"ONE!" 'I held up my index finger... in case you aren't the world traveler that I am -holding up your index finger while shouting, "one" is the international code for... one. I'm just trying to make your future travels easier.
I kept shouting and waving my index finger about so it looked like I was doing the jitterbug. "PLEEAASE. ONE for WARSAW!" "BILET!!! Oden! Moshna..."
something in Polish blah something in Polish.
"Ya know... War(act like bombs are being dropped over head) Saw(act out sawing motion)"
blah blah blah Polish Blah blah Blah
I point to a sign that shows the ticket I want the over night bus to Warsaw that ends at 6 the next morning.
some more polish.
Just one." i do a side step and wave my arms in one direction... That's the international sign for one way.... although sometimes this looks like the hula. She eventually tapped something into the computer and then said 40 in Russian. I gave her a look... Could the Bitch speak Russian this whole time..?.. Either way I paid the price and got my ticket.It could be a return for all I know.
I had the rest of the day to kill. Everything in the town kinda shut down a round 8pm My bus wasn't leaving till 10:40pm, but with a lack of places to go I decided to wait at the bus stop with my bike. No one else really showed up till about 10 minutes before the bus came. They were all being seen off by family, friends, boy/girlfriends. I was alone with my bike. I didn't feel alone though I felt I had a mission. I felt like I had a sick child who needed urgent help but the only place we could get help for her disease was in the capital city.
I pictured myself with a babushka scarf tied around my head, barefoot(mostly cuz I was barefoot cuz my boots made my feet hurt), clutching my poor sick dying bike. We would ride across the country if that is what it took to get help.
Blah blah blah polish blah blah
"Does anyone speak English? Pa-Ruski? ENGLISH?"
"Where are you from?"
I didn't know why the man had to ask that... what does it matter where I'm from I still need someone to help me in some language other than Polish.
"America... tell him the bike is coming with me. I can't leave the bike I'm going to Warsaw for the bike. Please, tell him."
Long blank stare
blah polish blah
even longer blank stare
awkward standing around time
me looking away slowly but shaking the bike at the men.
look back slowly
eye contact
the driver gestures me to follow him.
He opens up a compartment area for me to put the bike into. I tried. Didn't fit. tried again. didn't fit. just as I was about to freak out and smash the bike against the bus and yell, "IT HAS TO FIT!" the guy who"spoke English" grabbed it from me and jammed it in. fine. can't hardly break it more than it is already broken.
The bus ride was terrifying. And I'm saying this even though my first time in a mini bus in Uganda, called a Matatu, we hit a cyclist and kept driving. This was so much scarier. The bus driver was going insanely fast and I watched as every semi went just a breath past my window.
Even though the driver was going insanely fast I didn't even connect in my brain that we might show up early. We pulled up to a stop that looked like it must be the center of Warsaw, there were all these big buildings with names of hotels that I recognized. I figured it couldn't be. It was only 4 in the morning. My ticket said I would arrive in Warsaw at 6. I figured we must be like in another town or near the airport or something. I figured I would just wait for the final stop. Pretty quickly after we left the stop I realized that was in fact the center and we were now heading out to the airport.
When the bus pulled up to the airport and everyone got off I still stayed on the bus. I had an hour and forty more minutes on the bus. They owed me that time. And no one ever mentioned airports... they didn't even do the international sign of holding out their arms while humming mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
I waited then kind of wandered over to the door and stuck my head out
"Is this the last stop?"
"Yes, it is," replied a man who never bothered to speak up in English before that moment.
"So... I like gotta get off."
nod of the head.
I got my bike and bags and tried to figure out what i should do. Well, getting out of the departure zone would be a start. There was no direct route to the arrivals which was directly below the departures so I had to walk against traffic, fortunately at that hour there wasn't much, and go all the way around the terminal and down. In total it took about an hour and a half for me to get back into not a big deal but I still felt stupid. I took a bus where the whole time it seemed like the bus driver was trying to knock me off my feet. Thank God my legs don't straighten out anymore and my quads are really strong. I was able to remain standing the whole time, while holding my bike in place that was trying to roll off. I still haven't slept... maybe I should go and do that... maybe this whole weird ride to Warsaw was some weird dream...maybe...

World of Possiblities...

I like seeing a wall full of Lonely Planets it makes me think of all the potential places I could go :)


Sometimes it takes me a while to learn. It took me a while to realize that people in Poland don't stand in line. I have heard many jokes over time about how Americans will stand in line for anything. Although, I have to say I have never seen a culture so willing to stand in lines as the Dutch. The Polish on the other hand...
After being second in line for about 15 minutes and about every minute or two second to a new person I started to realize I was going to have throw my weight around if I wanted to get some service. I'm not good at it... seriously you would think I would be but I get all panicked. Can't we just make a nice neat line and I gradually move up when I'm in the front it's my turn.
Today I did get a little annoyed by the constant cutting and had to retaliate a little bit. I took my frustration out on a woman who didn't even do it very smoothly. She first stood behind me, ya know like a how you do normally in a check out line, and then right as the guy was grabbing his stuff and leaving...she...I can barely type it... she.she side stepped me and threw her stuff on the counter and put her money in the little money trey.
I was shocked.. I did some loud exhausted puffs of air and out of no where stated very loudly, "OH, THIS BITCH IS CRAZY!"
This caught her attention when she stared back at me I decided to go back to my old stand by move. When people get pushy with me or cut me I like to stand uncomfortably close to the. She could feel my presence and I could feel her tense up. Now all of a sudden she could scootch over. I scootched too. And with a huff put my stuff on the counter. I even held standing uncomfortably close to her for a second or two after she got her receipt.
I have to admit I am always surprised when people get pushy with me. I mean I won't actually do something, but it is the potential of me doing something that should make people not be pushy with me. It's like at bars in college and sorority girls started getting all attitudy with me I was always extremely surprised. Really all 5'2" 105 pounds of you is going to give me 'tude? Nothing every came to blows with the sorority girls since I could get out of any problem with them with my superior wit and sarcasm.
I guess all I think is that if I saw me I would go, my that is a big girl...maybe I'll just wait in line. So, Pols get in line... or get prepared for me to be literally breathing down your neck.

This pic is actually from Latvia I just like my stars and bars hat :)It should say don't push me around

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Long story...

So the next six little posts are about the demise of my back wheel. I have actually posted them in the order you should read them, so don't scroll to the bottom and read up. It's a long story that is why I broke it up into sections. Feel free to read it all or just parts. This series goes down to the map from there on it is seperate stories. So, if you don't feel like reading that much just look at the pictures. I won't be offended it's probably what I would do.
I'll let ya know how it goes after this.

Slow Down you move to fast....

Getting out of Riga, Latvia was quite the ordeal. Nothing is labeled very well, I had to carry my bike with the bags over 8 lanes of train tracks...while worrying that a train was coming. So,naturally when I reached the Lithuanian border I was very excited. So, many things were looking up about Lithuania. While I hadn't seen a cloud once while in Latvia as I stood at the border exchanging my money I could see clouds on the Lithuanian side while it was still just a hot pale blue sky on the Latvian side. I thought it was a sign of how things were going to go so much better for me in Lithuanian. Hey, I have been known to be wrong before.

I got too cocky. I was cycling along at such a nice pace. I figured I could get in and out of Lithuania in two days. I was thinking how lucky I am that the only thing I have really had go wrong was my handle bars coming a part-don't worry for 60kms I held them on to the bike til I could get them fixed in Riga.

I rode off the main road a little bit to catch a peak at a road sign to see how far away the next city was. Sweet. 15km... grab some lunch and cuz I'm making such good time I'll go another 50kms before calling it a day. I still don't know what I hit or rolled over but as I came back on to the main road thump thump thump my back wheel started to swerve a bit. I went ahead a little further so I could pull my bike into a field infront of an abandoned house.
I had a flat. I thought this is okay maybe I won't make it the extra 50kms I was planning on but it isn't going to be that big of a set back. Before I left I had been shown how to fix a hole in the inner-tubing.
I spent a good amount of time looking for this mystery hole that had caused my tire to go flat. I remembered that I had a new innertube in my saddle bag. I decided the easiest thing would be to take out this inner tube and put in the new one. after cutting off the old innertube with my swiss army knife(Techinically Kiri's but she has never asked for it back so I call it mine) and getting out the new inner tube I realized I had a bit of a problem.... I need to take the wheel off before I can put the innertube on... That Swiss Army knife can only do so much. After about an hour I stood up from the bike, stretched my back out and realized I was near nothing...

Can I get some help here?

I'm surprised at how un-upset I was. I think it's cuz I knew deep down I don't have very good luck- so sooner or later the bike was going to give. I especially knew it was going to go after how destroyed it was by Scandinavian Airlines people. I'm honestly surprised it got as far it did after being treated that way by SAS.
There really was nothing around me, just an old abandoned house that I figured I could sleep in if worse came to worse. A village appeared to be a kilometer or so away. For some reason I made the executive decision to leave my bike in some tall grass and walk to the village to look for help. Why leave the thing I need fixed? ummm... it was hot..?.. I really have no excuse for that thinking.
I wandered around and practiced the sentence, "Where can I get my bike fixed?" in Russian several times. Though from a distance it had looked like a village it was really just a bunch of house. There were no shops or anything. There also seemed to be no people.
When an old man went riding by me on a bike I asked him where I could get my bike fixed. He pointed to a house and told me there?

He than said some other stuff, something about Russian and I only realized later that it wasn't that they could fix it but that they knew Russian.
After thinking I had been told I could get my bike fixed in this little havel I went back to the field and fetched my bike. I left my bags in the tall grass figuring it would be incredible if someone found them there and if they were willing to carry the heavy things off they deserved what they got. Alot of stuff I could probably do without....
I had to carry my bike. At this point I was hoping to save the wheel, so I didn't want to put any pressure on it.
My bike... surprisingly heavy.
Unfortunately/fortunately no one was around. It was fortunate because than no one had to see me huffing and puffing as I carried my bike.
After doing two loops around the village I set my bike down in some shaded woodsy area to give it another go at getting the tire off. No luck there but I must have been standing in something poisonous cuz I got a pretty decent rash on my legs and arms. AWESOME! When your stressed over your transportation being broken a very itchy rash is what you want.
I figured this wasn't going to do any good I needed a more public spot, but where is a public spot when the area seems deserted? I plopped down right on the road and continued to bang on the bike. Some people went by in cars and while staring at me heavily they weren't about to stop and help.
It looked hopeless. I was just going to go to a bus stop a couple kilometers away and try to catch a bus into the city 15kms away. As I was carrying my bike out of the villagish area I heard someone talking to me.... That's how I met Pyetr...face down in a ditch.

Sometimes it only takes one... sometimes six

I know it isn't conventional wisdom to chat with men who are laying face down in a ditch, but I was desperate. At least he was talking to me, so far this was the best lead I had on getting my bike fixed.
After we had done some introduction and discussed how beautiful I was for a while I was able to steer the subject towards maybe getting my bike fixed.
Of Course, of course he knew exactly what to do. I gave him the innertube for the bike. He tried placing it into the tire. When I pointed out that I had done the same stupid thing and that you need to take the wheel off first, he agreed with me and than continued to do the same thing. Pyetr than asked for all my tools. I handed him the swiss army knife. He banged around with it about the same way I had. He realized he needed a bigger wrench and went to a neighbor ladies house to get one. By doing this he had alerted the masses that there was an American with a broken down bike in the area. All of a sudden there were lots of people. Where had they been before? Pyetr had done exactly what I had hoped, he got some people out to help me.
Pyetr was totally useless at fixing the bike and hit on me the whole time. I know his type: drunk, old, face down in a ditch... These kind of men love me and will always hit on me. Pyetr's wife and son even joined in on helping fix the bike. Pyetr son was actually the most helpful. They did eventually get the wheel off the innertube blown up.
There became a problem with getting the wheel back on the bike. No one could quite remember how they got it off. While we were trying to remember exactly how the wheel went on Pyetr tried to...well for having no nicer way of putting it... tried to kiss my bussom... I made it very clear to him that he was never NEVER NEVER NEVER going to be thanked that way. He was so upset he went off and sulked. We were finally getting somewhere with my bike, it had been 6 hours since the original puncture, so I really couldn't care and I let him wander off and sulk. Once the wheel was on I had all these extra parts that no one knew what to do with. I put the extra parts in my backpack and thanked everyone and rode off.
They did exactly what I hoped they wouldn't: they watched me ride off. I had to go back for my bags that were hidden in the field. So, when they saw me head off in the wrong direction Pyetr's son and a village girl who"spoke English" came to tell me I was going in the wrong direction. I pointed out my bags and thanked them again.
The 15kms to the city felt incrediably long. You learn to curse every bump in the road when you hear parts of your bike, that were on it only hours before, rattle with every bump you hit.