Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Chance trip to the dark continent.

It was in a sterile, 4-storey youth hotel just off of the vibrant Las Ramblas of downtown Barcelona that my quick-witted, smooth-talking brother, Riley, and I were holed up on Christmas Eve. This was the kind of place that you were as likely to be rooming with an alcoholic Brazilian linguist as a stout, commanding, tribal prince from the shores of Togo and his decrepit German wife. True story. What a prick that guy was…

Between the three alluring Mexicanas, the Chinese-American college boys and their two Japanese companions, stock was taken at 3 quarts of real mezcal Tequila, 7 pints of 75% absinthe, and a few loaves of bread. With the gram of dry shwag that my brother and I scored off of insert-Tunisian-here, we were perhaps a tad hungry, but no worse for our wares. Spain nobly retains at least a shade of its Christian heritage, duly closing stores for the holidays, leaving us without mix and thus no choice but to chase the absinthe with tequila shooters. Not to embellish too much my inebriated endeavors, I will say that the ensuing holiday bender falls no short of my Top 3 Most Mashed, and landed me some distressing health conditions, and even worse sexual straits, which will be left to the reader’s right hemisphere. The gem of this, however, is that on Christmas day I had a poignant conversation with Tsu-Tomu, one of our derelict holiday number, who was a sushi chef and former professional football player, ostensibly residing in San Diego, California. Our none-too extended dialogue marked the man’s chiseled, feline face in my mind.

From Barcelona, Riley and I headed south along the Costa del Sol, then westward, to Granada, where we arrived shortly before new years. Amongst the classic, Moorish architecture, shoved between the tiered hills which are alive with modern-day cave-dwellers and hidden squatter communities, my dear brother and I continued our feverish photographical quest. After a minor spat with my brother, the content of which escapes me, I went for a walk around the cobbled, labyrinthine streets, crowded by the closely-packed buildings. It was on this walk that I would chance upon my would-be friend Tsu-Tomu, who had abandoned his guide-book-following companions in favor of the impromptu adventuring sought by a minority of backpackers, of whose number I count myself part. He was on his way to Africa, weary of the padded thrills of continental Europe.

And that’s how I ended up on a midnight boat to the infamous Tangiers, Morocco.