Thursday, 11 December 2008

great danes

Time of morning here when the public tannoys are broadcasting health announcements to the populace, all agog to hear about HIV and innoculations as the city gears itself for action, interspersed with jaunty tunes and singing.

No chance of a lie-in after our lovely meal with the two Danes. We went last night to a beautiful restaurant in what had been a large private mansion built by a Frenchman in the thirties. We are led up to a splendid verandah on the first floor, where amongst tropical foliage and stuccoed Corinthian columns we peruse the menu. Perhaps we blanch visibly at the prices, and certainly barely-suppressed gasps escape one of us (we are budget travellers! will we ever get to Bangkok airport let alone have a dollar left for a flight home?), but Frederik evermindful invites us as his guests. Many many thanks!! It was a superb meal, a seemingly never-ending suite of dishes, and excellent company.

Frederick suffered a life-threatening, and life-changing, cerebro-vascular incident a couple of years ago. From being a corporate executive he is now a trainee psychotherapist, specialising in body-centred work. He has even heard of, and practised, the Alexander Technique, and meditates. He plans to move to London next year, so the next meal is on me!
Rolf has abandoned the chilly shores of the North Sea for the Australian Gold Coast where he lives now, but they are old and loving friends and travel often together.
We learn amongst many other things that Danes call those eponymous canines "les grands danois", in French! They are apparently a French breed, but like fake Calvins breed everywhere these days. Its amazing what you learn on the road.
Fortified with espresso (I have a blog to write) I am accompanied home by Rolf who helps me cross the crazy road, crazier than usual tonight as flotillas of scooters brandishing the national flag are endlessly circling the town lake, hooters ablare. Perhaps a football victory, or plain tropical joie de vivre!

Sitting at my keyboard later in vest and underpants, barefoot, window open to the nocturnal sounds of the city, I feel like Hunter S. Thompson tapping away with an older technology, his typewriter paper limp with tropical damp, as he reports on human folly, and fear and loathing in Puerto Rico, Cuba or Las Vegas, and his own drink habit. Only the rum at my elbow is missing. I sip at green tea.

This evening we head south on the night train, to visit a huge system of underground shelters and caves, where people took refuge for months on end to avoid the bombs of only three/four decades ago.
Every country we have passed through since crossing the Channel has seen unparalleled horror and devastation in the last century.
A litany of human suffering : Belgium, Germany, Poland, Russia, Mongolia and China. One could weep. We still have the killing fields of Cambodia ahead.

ps Abrazos to Mauricio, and calusy to Nityabandhu for your messages and encouragement. They are much appreciated.