Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 182: December 3rd 2009. The Lost Soul

Toben was supposed to get a bike this morning. He was excited all week for it.

"Yup, I can't wait to get me a bike t'murrah!" in his light Louisiana accent.

He met another homeless man who worked up enough money to get to Seattle. He offered his bike up to Toben. So instead of taking a walk over to G street pier, where we usually go first thing in the morning to catch the first rays of the sun, we headed over to where they would meet. They were scheduled to meet at 9:30am by the first wooden benches north of the Maritime Museum. The weather was real miserable, cloudy skies, chilly air. Regardless of the weather though, there was a homeless man who walked the harbor up and down all day long. It was like he was a programed robot. At 630 he would be walking past the Coast Guard base. At 710 he was walking by the Star of India. He would walk the length of the harbor from about the airport to the Midway never speaking to anybody or even making eye contact with anybody, carrying an army napsack over his shoulder. He was one of the first people I started recognizing here when I arrived. So I asked Toben that morning

"Man, I wonder what that guy is thinking all the time. I keep seeing him doing the same thing everyday" and without a pause or any hesitation Toben responded like he had the one and only answer.
" He's a lost soul, destined to walk until he finds his purpose and does good on this earth before he can depart. He's stuck here, kind of like a ghost"

A lost soul. Man I hope Im not a lost soul.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 175-179 November 26th- 30th, 2009. Satan, and Satan's Demons and Spawns on Thanksgiving Weekend

"Do you know what its like to be injected with all kinds of drugs you don't know about? Do you have any idea?" Ted seriously asked me and Toben as he puffed from the apple. We were leaning on the black waist high metal fence of Ace parking, propped up against our bags. It was about 6, already dark and we were just sitting, smoking, getting ready to start spreading our tarps, mats and sleeping bags.

"Its worse than prison. You sit there like this" as he laid a lifeless head on his left shoulder while his tongue was hanging out like a dead dog. "You are druelling all over yourself and you cant help it and you're constantly thinking-'aaaaaaaaahh. am I dead? Am I a zombie?' haha, you know?"

The fact that he laughed sent shivers to my spine. He was aware of everything that happened and in a normal state of mind, enough to recognize that it was really shitty. To me that was fucked up. Ted started explaining earlier, as he took his first puff from the apple, how he was committed to mental institution in Phoenix due to his religous beliefs.

"You see when I first realized I was god, I used this machine to pound out emails, like a thousand emails per minuted to everybody in the 7th Day Adventist Church, which my dad was affiliated with, to let them know I was the second coming of god"
"Like spam email?"
"Yeah, the same machine they use to send out spam, I used to send emails to let the masses know. They actually convened a meeting about me and decided I was crazy. They told my dad that if I didn't stop proclaiming I was God he would lose his monthly stipend from the church. So my mom took me aside later and told me that I had to stop, or they would lose the money they were getting from the church. That really made me angry and I thought- 'What?! So this is all about money?!' So they disowned me and never talked to me again."
"Damn man, thats fucked up"
"Yeah, they called the police, I got arrested and got sent to mental institution. They diagnosed me with paranoid schizophrenia, and I was committed for a year. I think it was worse than prison. They use this thing called a burrito wrap, like a cloth and they wrap you in so that you can't move anything. They strap you too."
"I can only imagine man. That sounds horrible" I tried hard to imagine and what I was capable of was probably heaven compared to the reality. I tried to imagine a place where I was convinced I was sane, but everybody else was convinced I was crazy and not only that but they also treated me like I was crazy. That in itself I thought, them treating me like I was crazy, would probably make me crazy; it would just slowly manifest itself in me. Besides all the shit they injected me with to 'treat' me, that I had no clue about. It was like eating acid and not knowing it then tripping and not having a clue what the intense effects were. The hallucinations and the intensity would probably turn me crazy.

Then I remembered a tale, I forgot where I read, about a king that was just and loved by his people. Then the water source of the village became infected and made all the people insane except the king who drank from his own private well. Suddenly all the people hated the king, and were convinced he was unjust although he hadn't changed the way he treated them. The king couldn't understand what happened and in trying to please his people by living with them, drank from the infected water source. The king was again loved by his people.

"Oh, so there goes talkative Ted when he's high. Saying too much and threatning my security. I better shut up."

Two Mexican ladies came a little later, set up a table with freshly cooked turkey and ham. We slept well and full on Thanksgiving day.

* * *

Ted's hanging head with his tongue out kept fucking with me the next day. The image kept replaying in my head and "Am I zombie?" kept ringing in my ears. There were somethings Ted would say that would go in one ear, right out the other. Things about the angels that spoke to him, that he must destroy 'satan and satan's demons and spawns" and the only way to do that would be to nuke earth and start over again. According to Ted, the world would be a perfect place with humans living with a "700 year growing old curse" or a lifespan of 700 years where they would be in the physical form of a 17-23 year old. For Ted, his religion was all about "winning" and "conquering". I asked him later that day.

"Ted, why do you have to kill all these innocent people to destroy satan? And mess up earth?"
"That's the only way. I have to become human to destroy satan and satans demons and spawns and nuke em"
"But doesn't god have better, more sophisticated weapons to destroy satan, rather than using a man made weapon that destroys everything?"
"I do have weapons called spiritual scanners that I could attack satan and satan's demons and spawns with, but the technology is so advanced and sacred it must be protected because of satan or satans demons and spawns get a hold of it, it could mean the end of the world. I was the one who gave humans the knowledge of nuclear power. That technology existed long before huamsn came up with it, with my permission"
"I just think you are too focused on destroying everything and the exclusion of everybody. You don't like too many people"
"Oh, Omar, you're so naive. You think this world is full of love, love this, love that. You're so young. You dont know this world is full of hate. You don't know about the hate I've been through. I know you think I'm crazy"
"I don't think you are crazy, Ted, I think you are angry"

"Wouldn't you? I had everything and it was all taken away from me because people were jealous. They hated me. One day when you have an attractive wife some younger guy is gonna come and take her from you and she's gonna cheat on you and you won't know it until someone else comes up and tell you about it. You won't believe it, then you'll realize it was the truth. Then she'll want a divorce and she will want to take everything you have. And she will, because of the system that prefers women. Or maybe you'll have a successful company and the employees you trusted most are going to steal your source code and sell it to another company even though you are paying them well. You'll try to bring yourself back up then your family will say you are crazy because they are afraid of losing their money. You'll try and buy a new house and have an equity with a private lender, but he'll fuck you and take your house and you'll lose more than $200,000"

I didn't agree with Ted about destroying all of earth, but I guess I understood why he was so pissed at the world. Crazy? I've seen crazy out on these streets, not Ted. If there was some craziness, I thought, it was as a result of the mental institution. No matter what aspect I asked him about, relating to his story, he had it covered. And when Ted didn't speak to me about his religion, he was a real cool guy. He constantly told stories of his life when he wasn't homeless; his 700 bottle wine cellar that "was full all the time" with an automatic temprature guage and alarm system, his 67 Mustang he restored himself, his wine-red-interior Corvette, and his travels all around Europe and Mexico with girlfriends, escorts and such. We were talking of cocaine once, I don't know why but I asked him if he had ever tried it.
"What do you think Omar? I had money. I like to party and I got only the best"
No doubt, he was a very well spoken guy and told him that once when he asked me if I thought he was crazy.

"I think you are a very well spoken guy, actually. I don't even think you deserve to be on the streets"
"Ha! Well spoken." He looked at me with disbelief that I said that. "You know the judge told me that when I was defending myself, after they filed terrorism charges against me. He said I was a well spoken man"

* * *

"Omar, Omar. Wake up. I got it!"
"What Ted? Its 5 in the morning man. Its dark and cold. We still have another hour of sleep before we have to get up. What is it?"
"I got it. I'm gonna declare war on humanity. On everybody. The angels and I agree"
"Oh man, you woke me up to tell me that Ted. Just relax man, you can declare war at any time, there's no rush. We can talk about this later"

But he couldn't wait, he was talking to himself, contemplating and I couldn't go back to sleep. He smoked a cigarette, then quickly rolled up his sleeping bags and left. I didn't see him again that day. It was Monday the 30th of November.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Current Standings

Skated Memphis, TN to Tyler, TX: 468 miles (,+Cordova,+TN+38018&daddr=Imagination+Dr+to:Fairley+Rd+to:Tunica,+MS+to:Lula+Rich+Rd+to:helena,+ar+to:clarendon,+ar+to:AR-33+N+to:34.783356,-91.914368+to:Little+Rock,+AR+to:Texarkana,+AR+to:Tyler,+TX&hl=en&geocode=Feb6FwId0Vem-inrV2avTJl_iDFHLDp61v2vQA%3BFXAsFgIdJiKk-g%3BFVAuFgIdhO6h-g%3BFYI-EQId492c-imXepT7BjrVhzFlXF_cbJupLQ%3BFWx1DQIdqqab-g%3BFQvhDgId5K2Z-imlth3BW9XUhzEMG4NKrwY81g%3BFSBgEQIdt6mO-imNqqBcE1rThzEguZT4Mn6HFQ%3BFRCaEgId8G-M-g%3B%3BFXEwEgIdxcV_-imbVh-hNKHShzEXW_MNEPUFNA%3BFQBI_gEdSBll-imLqVntcGw0hjEOnUgIWiDaVQ%3BFRyk7QEdOtJR-inj-aseBcxJhjEccHdxfVwoPg&mra=dpe&mrcr=3&mrsp=8&sz=10&via=1,2,4,7,8&dirflg=w&sll=34.627558,-91.71936&sspn=0.5345,0.88028&ie=UTF8&ll=33.508194,-93.714752&spn=0.541608,0.88028&z=10)

Rode Tyler, TX to Austin, TX: 230 miles (,+tx&daddr=corsicana,+tx+to:Austin,+TX&hl=en&geocode=&mra=ls&sll=34.90741,-90.072615&sspn=0.532691,0.88028&ie=UTF8&z=8)

Skated Austin, TX to Llano, TX: 74.6 miles (,+TX&daddr=Spicewood,+Texas+to:Llano,+TX&hl=en&geocode=FRHXzQEdK48s-ikvA8ygmbVEhjF61WnUS0abXQ%3BFdAE0QEdiUAm-imnauanzD1bhjEO7MQSo80xew%3BFbFZ1QEdolYe-imTOn1mH0xahjGFs-KNbhTRKQ&mra=mr&dirflg=w&sll=30.465543,-98.158722&sspn=0.139971,0.22007&ie=UTF8&ll=31.784217,-99.596558&spn=2.208485,3.521118&t=p&z=8)

Rode Llano, TX to Sweetwater, TX: 185 miles (,+TX&daddr=ballinger,+tx+to:sweetwater,+tx&hl=en&geocode=&mra=ls&sll=31.611288,-99.61853&sspn=2.212604,3.521118&ie=UTF8&ll=31.615966,-99.541626&spn=2.212493,3.521118&t=p&z=8)

Skated Sweetwater, TX to Gail, TX: 69.5 miles (,+TX&daddr=snyder,+tx+to:gail,+tx&hl=en&geocode=&mra=ls&dirflg=w&sll=32.711044,-101.217041&sspn=1.093075,1.760559&ie=UTF8&ll=32.609303,-100.925903&spn=1.09432,1.760559&t=p&z=9)

Rode Gail, TX to Lamesa, TX: 31.7 miles

Skated Lamesa, TX to Seminole, TX: 40.9 miles

Rode Lamesa, TX to Hobbs, NM: 30 miles

Skated Hobbs, NM to Lordsburg, NM: 394 miles (,+nm&daddr=lovington,+nm+to:alamogordo,+NM+to:las+cruces,+nm+to:deming,+nm+to:Co+Rd+B001%2FMuir+Rd%2FNM-113+N+to:lordsburg,+nm&hl=en&geocode=FZQA8wEd2ETa-Sndq3y_A5X8hjGAaI_yoFEitA%3BFYiv9gEdtgbX-SkVKdOxfdr8hjGLMbFfuzyP-w%3BFcwB9gEdtyyv-SlR1HMiY1DghjG9YAuYjwUHeQ%3BFfwL7QEdH7Gi-SlpmAZFxxrehjG9Mj_xHdBtYw%3BFZph7AEd0LuT-Sl3Pj8b4cPehjEuC7EHIrHNhA%3BFSSA6wEdCNuH-Q%3BFZig7QEdxzyF-Sl55WnFIQLZhjHpCduwNTw58A&mra=ls&via=5&sll=32.352123,-107.817078&sspn=1.097452,1.760559&ie=UTF8&t=p&z=7)

Walked Lordsburg, NM to Duncan, AZ: 35.7 miles

Skated Duncan, AZ to Gila Bend, AZ: 267 miles (,+AZ&daddr=1000+w+baseline+rd,+mesa,+AZ+to:Gila+Bend,+AZ&hl=en&geocode=FTRK8wEdQy9_-SljnspX22vYhjHjmeWWlpbrXw%3B%3BFXC-9gEd4hNI-SnjfTCNQCjVgDErggvuexfqbQ&mra=ls&dirflg=w&sll=33.307577,-111.939697&sspn=1.085707,1.760559&ie=UTF8&t=p&z=7)

Rode Gila Bend, AZ to Calexico, CA: 178 miles (,+AZ&daddr=calexico,+ca&hl=en&geocode=&mra=ls&sll=33.070665,-110.47903&sspn=2.177263,3.521118&ie=UTF8&ll=32.907262,-115.241089&spn=2.181244,3.521118&t=p&z=8)

Walked Calexico, CA to Ocotillo, CA: 31.6 miles

Rode Ocotillo, CA to San Diego, CA: 88.7 miles (,+ca&daddr=San+Diego,+CA&hl=en&geocode=FW-N8wEdvBEW-Sm5uxAo88LZgDGB3Xz8L9hRJg%3B&mra=ls&sll=32.702945,-115.74733&sspn=0.546594,0.88028&ie=UTF8&t=p&z=9)

Total skated: 1,314 miles
Total rode in car: 743.4 miles
Total walked: 67.3 miles
Total of journey so far: 2,124.7 miles

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Song For the Homeless of San Diego, and Everywhere Else

What Goes around, comes around, sometimes up sometimes down.
Enough hungry and homeless roam the land. Living in country bounty so plenty (How come they so hungry?)
Enough hungry people go to bed belly empty
Lord, God you know, it hurts so much you just can't cry.
River of tears long gone run dry
The sky is their roof, the ground is their belly.
Upon the concrete slab they lay their weary heads.
Lord, God you know, it hurts so much you just can't cry.
River of tears long gone run dry
You don't know what tomorrow's gonna bring
Life is on ebig road, we livin in a borrowed time

Israel Vibration- On Borrowed Time

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 173: November 24th 2009. Mexico on the Mind

At first it was an idea and I thought it would fade away but it kept sticking and kept sticking. I thought, hey, maybe it was downtown San Diego, let me go try something new. So I did. I left my homeless community, Tobey and Ted and all the other people that sleep in my neighborhood and headed about 12 miles north to Ocean Beach.
I got everything I was thinking of when I got to Ocean Beach. There were waves when I got there on the morning of Sunday the 15th. I surfed all day on the knee high waves and I was ecstatic. Two days later the swell started picking up to overhead and I surfed the next 3-4 days until I was completely worn out. From about 6 in the morning until about 11 I would be in the water, until the wind started to pick up and turn the ocean into a mess, then I would go pump around the bowl or lay out in the sand and burn then head back into the water at about 3 until the sun went down at 5. Those were my days in Ocean Beach. The good beach life I missed, but then I realized that I didn't want to be done. I didn't want to settle there. I met some cool people, saw the reggae did it all but for some reason I still didn't feel satisfied. And the Mexico thoughts kept coming stronger and stronger everyday. The bottom line was that Ocean Beach felt like a vacation, and for a week that was great, but in the end I'm not travelling to be on vacation. Obviously that is a tiny part of it, but I'm travelling to learn, to be enlightened and chilling on the ocean, surfing and skating all day everyday didn't teach me anything I didn't already know. I'm gonna keep doing them forever, but why not do them somewhere new?

So I looked into and started researching. From San Diego to La Paz, Baja California is more than another 1,000 miles. If something doesn't start to show by the end of the week of the December the 5th, I'll be on my way to Mexico.

Also, one more thing, it is so imperative that I return home because without going back to the origin and being able to reflect on this knowledge I have acquired, they will be just that; facts that dont mean anything. Returning home will allow me to reflect on the bigger picture and turn that knowledge into important life lessons.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 163: Novemeber 14th, 2009. Ted's Story

Another cold ass morning and day in general. Had three layers on all day except after lunch at Vinny's. Thats where my adventure began.

I ran into cool Ted at Vinny's, we converstaed and when I told him I had a website, he got all excited. So he asked me if I wanted to put my shit in his storage, so I can get to the library and use a computer, I said yeah. That's really when I got to know Ted on that walk to storage, and the library after lunch. As he asked me later that day, "so now you really understand how I lost it all."

Ted's storage spot was a little 5x5 room with all that remained of his stuff. First we went through a gate with a keypad, then an elevator with a keypad, then through a hall with different storage compartments that made me feel as I was walking through a hallway with infinite doors in The Matrix. We put our storage, picked up a couple of his laptops, one of which he would let me use as long as I used it next to him, and then headed to the library. On the way there, I asked for his website and he told me.

"You are gonna think I'm crazy"
"Haha, yeah?"
"Yeah, but its the truth."
I didn't really show a reaction, I still didn't know what it was all about.
"I beleive I'm god. I am the resurrection of god in the human form" He didnt send the slightest hint of sarcasm

So wwe walked and he told me of his beliefs, which were wild, but I listened nontheless with curiosity. It was totally a Matrix style belief system where Ted/God created the technology to create humans somewhere else, then brought them down earth on spaceships and stuff. All this was revealed to him by angels on his 40 days/40 nights on his sailboat.

"I understand if you don't want to talk to me anymore. You would probably get a lot of heat for hanging with me. I've had some Mexicans try to kill me once. They cut me up and was bleeding real bad. Had to get 40 stitches."
"Damn, when was this?"
"About nine months ago"
"Its just so crazy to me how you prefer to lose it all, your job, your family over your wild beliefs."
"My family disowned me and they didn't even invite me to my mothers funeral."
"What you believe is what you believe Ted. Im not, not gonna talk to anymore because of what you believe, that would be ridiculous. I think you are a real cool guy and honestly, Im glad I met you. I don't have to agree with your beliefs to like you. There are certain things though, that are universal among humans with any belief I don't like, like arrogance and dishonesty. Those are things that make any human with any belief become unfavorable to me. And thats the truth"

Honestly, I like Ted. His website was a bunch of ramble that even grammatically didn't make sense and was very repetitive. If I had come across it before I personally met him, I probably wouldn't approach hime, that wasn't my first impression of him. He was a very well spoken guy and I knew he wasn't shitting me about anything he said. For now I'm listening to him.

Day 162: November 12th, 2009. Homeless Day 4

It was a cold fucking day. All day. Temps in the low 60s, 50s and high 40s at night. There was a real a real cool ocean breeze that brought a windchill. It was mostly overcast all day. Real crapy day to be outside. I spent the day with Tobey. We did nothing really just tried to stay warm. He kept talking about making money at the airport but having to take the bus there even though its almost 3 miles from downtown and "looking like tourists". He wouldn't share his secret that was "taught to him 15 years ago when he was last in San Diego. "You'll be leaving with a pocket full of quarters after 3 hours. $20-30 in the day. But you can't tell nobody". He kept making me promise, though I dont know why, he never told me anyway. I met a man from Barrington, RI too; he couldn't believe it.

I signed up for an ID to get meals at St. Vincent De Paul's, locally in the homeless community known as "Vinny's", the local dining spot. Bright, red, orange ID. With it I can get my meal a day between 11-12;30 and access to showers, finally. As for storage so I can walk without a pack and get a job, still no luck.

The Situation

So Im here in San Diego and according to the title and my intent in the beginning the journey is over. But for some reason, I just don't feel it complete in myself. I feel like I can't stop here. I will definitely keep travelling, maybe even some more on the skateboard.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 160: Nov 11 2009. Homeless Day 3

Today is veterans day and nothing governement is open to honor those who fight to preserve 'freedom'. Its more like those who die to keep the rich in power and make them richer. Somebody is playing us all for a fool.

The day started out real shitty. I slept well but woke up real depressed. Another pre sunrise day before the cops came and harrassed us; gotta make a move on early. So I did and because its Veterans Days nothing was open. I went and laid on a harbor bench and passed out until noon. I got up and had no idea what to do. I sat and watched the ocean and contemplated returning home. I was not really impressed with San Diego. Expensive, overcrowded and noisy. The weather was fine on some days but still. I made it here and that was my goal. As I was contemplating those facts I saw a backpakcer walk past me. He was an older dude with a blond ponytail and a blue LSU hat. He sat on a bench two down from mine. To test the waters, I asked if he could watch my pack while I skated; in reality I would be watching from far.

"How do you know you can trust me?"
"I guess I dont"
"How long are you going to be gone?"
"10 minutes?"
It'll be right there"
"Cool. Thank you. Whats your name?"
"Alright then, I'll be back"

I bought some Oreos and shared. And started a conversation. Tobey called himself a free spirit. He was from 'nowhere' and lived 'everywhere'. He was a 'survivor' and former Army corps of engineers. He wired his own radio together and a light that supposedly goes on forever. I could tell he was definitely a resourceful man, not with his teeth though. The left side at his top pallette was missing, and from the right incisor on, he had teeth that were black from the gums, and became dark yellow at the tips. We had some good conversations, about politics, acid, travels and such. It was good to have a person to really talk to in this urban jungle, and I know and he had knowledge that was useful. I also needed a person to watch my shit when I had to use the internet. So we spent the most part of the rest of the day together watching each others back. And at 730 we headed to the corner of Union and A hoping to score some dinner from the people who come feed us. Instead I had the pleasure of meeting Ted. He reminded me of the old man in Home Alone.

"So how'd you end up on the streets?"
"Oh. haha. It was along sequence of events"'
"What was the initial event?"
"Proabably a divorce. She took about 75% of everything and my two kids. Lost my home in Santa MAria. I used to own a software company that cloned Windows. Had to shut that down. At peak, I had about 35 emplyees. Been homeless for two yeats now."
"God damn, that sucks. Im sorry"

Ted was a real cool. He had crazy stories; the adventures of a computer geek really, but gangsta style. Microsoft was pissed at what he was doing and they tried to steal his source code like they did so many times to others. Even said, that when he was in Seatlle they sent somebody to try and kill him. Instead the guy beat the shit out of him until two people with dogs came and saved him.

That night when no food showed up, he took a bag of food in his pack out and invited me and Tobey to anything we wanted in there. We had a delicous dinner of rock hard onion bagels and ham sandwiches. Those are the homeless of America, at least San Diego

Day 159: November 10 2009. Homeless Day 2

I spent the most part of the day wandering the streets of downtown. I was waiting to hear from Subway but no luck. I went in and after the told me they needed closers the day before they said they weren't hiring today. I came across another large crowd of homeless people by the public library. Such a sad sight to see. It makes it hard for the smiling peron I am to smile. The homeless population here must number in the thousands. Some are mentally handicapped but from what I have seen the most have recently lost their jobs and homes in the recent economic downturn, while their executives enjoy raises and bonuses. What kind of fucked up shit is that? The woman that sleeps on the mattress behind me on A street parallel to the fence of a parking lot was telling me her story.

She lost her job and house on the same week. She lived in her van after and when she couldn't make payments on that too, the police came and took it and her dog from her and put her in jail for fighting back. With the last of her savings she bailed herself out and paid $150 to take her dog out. She carries everything she has left in a shopping cart. When we got up before the sunrise this morning, before people start to show up for work, and we are forced to leave, she apologized if she kept me awake at night because of her cough. When I asked where I coould get some breakfast, she gave me a banana, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a trailmix bar.

Before the end of my night as I was sitting on the corner of 5th and Market a guy offered me a subway sandwich. When I asked him why he did it he said that would hope someone would do the same if he was in my situation. Being homeless completely changes the concept of everyday struggles. Finding a place to shit in privacy is impossible. The public restrooms door is wide open, the toilets do not have their own doors. Fast food franchises make you pay a quarter at the door to enter like a phone booth and no private restaurant will let me in. Showers, you have to sign up for at a place called St Vincent De Paul and there is no provacy there either. I eat once a day and my body is in starvation mode; Im actually gaining weight, storing every meal I take in to the max.

Day 158: November 9th 2009. First Night Homeless

John made it clear to me the night before that because he was a guest at the house he was staying at he couldn't promise another night. Six people already lived in the two bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment of which I felt a very unwelcome vibe from two. The theme of the house was an 1800s style mustache, so long, it was made to curl up. At least one of them rocked it as a sign of arrogance, I could tell, the worst quality a human could possess.

The next morning came and I was awaken by the proximity of traffic to the apartment, as if I was in Cairo again. It was about 630. John invited me to come check out Point Loma Nazarene University which was facing the open ocean; I couldn;t refuse. The 10 minute walk up the hill was tiring but at the top I witnessed my first swell since January. It seemed small at first but then I looked to the left and Boom! Fuck yeah, solid head high waves. I started skipping fast towards it and there was about 10-15 guys on each of the three peaks. I watched for the next three hours. Surf, Im comin to you, but for now Im here. As I watched, John texted me and told me that one of the roommates is brining my stuff, a good hint it was time for me to go. At 3 I said my goodbyes to John and was on my own. For the rest of the day I would be looking for a job, homeless services and a corner to sleep in.

So I wandered the streets of San Diego, applying in Subways, and different restaurants. Its not like I came here without a plan. I applied to every single microbiology position I came across in Phoenix. Not a single one has responded. If this is what God intended for me, the it what it is and like I said before I accept that fate. I sat on the corner of 5th and Market for a while before a San Diego ambassador told me to leave and so I did. While I was headed back to the bay, I came across a corner lined up with at least 30 people laying out. That was where I would spend my night. And as I was walking up a bunch of college kids came up to everybody and offered sandwiches and water. They also came to sit and talk. I got to spend my time with Jaime and Ni Mo a sophomore and a junior at UCSD in La Jolla. Very kind people, they were. I went to sleep at the corner of A street and State.

Day 157: November 8 2009. Mile 26 on CA-98 to San Diego (26 mi)

I made it to San Diego. Not the the going out with a bang I wanted but I'm here, with the Pacific ocean right infront of me and its breeze running through my nose getting me high. Im in disbelief. I can't imagine. Ive seen a car with a surfboard today. Is it real?

I was up and skating at 6 and what a difficult start it was. Texas shitty roads, yes again. Then the heat picked up, then mountains and running of water. Its like everything, every obstacle has been put in my way in the end. During my skate (actually I was walking then because the road was terrible) I came across a cycler who stopped to talk.

"Brian Mc.. (I can't recall the last name). How are you?"
"Omar, nice to meet you"
"Walking across country?"
"Trying to, but actually I can't skate because of these shit roads. How are your wheels holding up on these roads?"
"Horrible. Im starting a petition against these roads. They just repaved it too. This country once had the best roads on earth"

That last sentence stuck with me for a while. Shitty ass fucking roads. Where's all the money going to? I said farewell to Brian and continued. The road was fucking long and hot and if it weren't for the border patrol agents who hooked me up with water, I would have ran out with 15 miles to go. With 8 miles still left, my knees were feeling like they needed to be replaced. My calves and thighs were sore too. I relaxed underneath the shade of a little bush. I kept going again and at about 1 PM was at the Texaco station at the little town of Ocitillo enjoying Flamin Hot Lays, Ginseng Iced Tea and Welchs Strawberry fruit snacks and mentally preparing for the interstate mountain passes coming up. I was sitting on a little curb finishing up my fruit snacks when I saw a really familiar face walking up to the register. As the person walked in I got up to see the license plate on his car; indeed it was an Arizona one. I knew this guy. Oh! It was another pedicabber.

I never even knew his name but on Halloween Saturday we were working in Tempe for the ASU vs Cal game. In the taxi line up, he was infront of me. A crew of six guys needed two cabs and since I was the one behind him I got the rest of the guys. The guys wanted me to race him about 2 blocks up to a bar called the library. He gave me a head start but still beat me in the end. That was all I knew of him. What he was doing in this tiny ass town this far from Arizona, was beyond me.

"Yo, are you a pedicabber?" I shouted as he walked back out of the gas station
"Aaaaah, yeah? Do I know you?"
"Yeah man, remember me? ASU vs Cal game in Tempe....Im a Bumblebee (pointing to the logo on my shirt)"
"...we raced, you beat me.... I was wearing a wig?"
"Oh thats right! I remember you. What are you doing all the way out here?"
"Man Im trying to make it to San Diego. Where are you headed?"
"I have to take care of a pedicabbing ticket I got in San Diego"
"You mind if I ride with you?"
"No, not at all"

And so it was. I took the oppurtunity which was so random in this shit tiny gas station in the middle of nowhere California; I was there at the same time he was. Out of the 40 other pedicabbers that day he was the one infront of me and riders needed two, which was unusual. Eric was his name. And when we got to San Diego he introduced me to some other pedicabbers. I didn't want to ask of anything more of him. I really wanted to see the ocean, not the bay. Now, I was stressin about a place to stay. If it was in my destiny to be homeless, the so shall it be. I accepted that fate right then and there, for I knew it was what was best. But if I was to spend the night homeless in SAn Diego then it would at least be on the beach on the Pacific; the closest was 8 miles north of downtown and so I skated. I got to Point Loma, a suburb of San Diego and the sun was setting. There was no way I was going to make it 5 miles before dark so I turned back and walked into a McDonalds. An old Hawaiian woman came up to me and asked if I was travelling and after interviewing me for a little offered a place to spend the night. She said she would go ask her daughter and commanded me twice to wait on her there. I waited for a half hour and when she got back she apologized for her daughter couldn't take me in. I said it was alright and now really planned to sleep outside. As I was walking back to the bay on Harbor Drive a guy came up to.

"Have you been travelling?"
"Yeah man I just got into San Diego today"
"Did you walk the whole way?"
"Skated, walked, rode"
"Wow! Thats so cool!"
"Yeah man"
"So whats the craziest thing that happened?"
"Man to tell you the truth I haven't even started reflecting yet." I didn't want to talk, just lay out and be warm. I was too tired
"So what are you going to do now?"
"Man I gotta go find a place to sleep"
"I have a place you can spend the night and shower if you want"
"Yeah, follow me"
"Man, you must be angel or something"
"Im John"
"And Im Omar"

And so it was. He saw me walking as he was standing on his apartment balcony and came to chase me down. Coincidence? Nah, I always said coincidence was unexplained reason. First night in San Diego, spent warm, amongst a quiver of 6 road nikes and 7 surfboards, in a house straight from the 70s. 70s style furniture, TVS and an old ass Atari.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 156: November 7, 2009 Mile 26 on AZ-238 to Mile 20 on CA-98 (46 mi)

San Diego on the mind. Waves in the soul. So close! Im in Cali, even though everything so far reminds me of Texas/New Mexico.

Early start and a cool morning. The day started real quiet on AZ-238. No cars. Just the desert wind and a train every once in a while on the parallel railroad tracks. After the first five pushes my stomach cramped so I walked the first mile. Things were progressing too slow so I got on the board. Cruising at 8mi/hr, wooo off to Gila Bend and the beginning of the interstate hoping it would be as copless as New Mexico.
At 910 I was in Gila Bend, reloading on water and Poptarts. Then it was off to I-8. 2 miles into I-8...
"Fuck me, already?!"
"Sir, what do you think you are doing? You are not allowed here" said the smartass DPS officer
"Sir, Im trying to get to San Diego. This is the onle road that will take me there"
"Im sorry, do you have an ID on you?"

He jumps back in his car and I wait. Straight up, about 20 minutes later as I was sweating my ass of sitting on the side of the road, he comes back out

"Sorry Omar, you are going to have to find an alternate route"
"But there is no alternate route"
"Thats not my problem"
"Sir, Im almost there, please just let it slide this one time"
"Sorry, state law prohibits you from skating on this road" with not a trace of sorrow in his voice
"Well, I have no idea what to do now"
"I can't help you there, but if I find you on this road again, Ill have to take you in. Consider this a warning"
"Thank You"

So I walked with my head held low. If I must walk this 100 some miles, then so be it. I was pissed. This cop was an asshole and treated me like shit for no reason. Oh well. I walked and so it was. I got picked up by a white Hyundai. Francisco was his name and he was heading to Mexicali to visit his family. To El Centro we departed where I would get off and never have to be on the interstate again. (Since from Yuma, AZ to El Centro, CA there was no alternate route but the interstate)

I left Francisco in Calexico and off I skated on CA-98 a mediocre road. Farms on both sides and scorching heat reminded me of Safford, AZ. San Diego baby. 3 days, here I come

Day 155: November 6, 2009, Mesa to Mile 26 on AZ-238 (42 mi)

Finally back on the road, man it feels good, but exhausting. Its been a while since I skated and I had to push myself alot harder this time around. I left Mesa at 7 after saying my farewells to Keil and Hannah. I have said so many goodbyes in my life that it has just become another part of life for me. As much as it makes me sad to go, I feel like I dont feel it inside. My dad always told me I was cold blooded (in the most loving way).

From Baseline I took Kyrene which put me on AZ 347. It was a little confusing but I was on my Way on 347 when a red jeep pulled ahead and a guy started taking pictures. I didn't bother to stop because I was in the zone and at 10 I found myself at Maricopa. From there I got onto AZ-238 and exhaustion started to kick in. Stomach cramps, sore ankles and a terrible case of ball rash; with every kick an intense buring on the left side. I stopped, rested at mile 38 and was about to admit defeat for the day but decided to keep going. And I forgot about the pain. At 3:47 I decided that was enough skating for the day. Pretzels for dinner. I feel like tomorrow is gonna be painful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 152: November 3rd 2009, Ready for Some Surf!

The journey resumes! I've had some good times in Phoenix, but I'm excited to get out and make the final phase of the continental part happen. I need the ocean; this huge flat desert is so boring. Sunday's Cardinals vs Panthers game was my last day with the the Bumblebee and since the last week, I have managed to save the $400 I needed to get out but not without a struggle. Its definitely not going to be enough, but the cold is moving in quick and the days are getting shorter and shorter and I feel like if I stayed any longer I won't be getting out until March and I'm not about to let that happen. A small window of oppurtunity has opened and its time to jump through.

The same thoughts of leaving have now hit as in every city. The butterflies, the fears of being on the road, the anxiousness of arriving at the otherside...all the things that make leaving real. Its on for Thursday, November 5th. 2 days to Gila Bend on I-8. According to the satellite there is a road that runs next to I-8 for the most part I plan on taking.

The gods of stoke have answered mine and Jochem's prayers!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day 134: October 16th 2009, Stuck and Stressin in Phoenix

I hope Im not speaking prematurely or being too judgmental but Phoenix is not the place I want to be. To be honest, San Diego is not even that place. I mean maybe temporarily. I can't dig it here. I've tried but its not my style. But I spent so much time here that I'm now more or less stuck.

The Bumblebee didn't turn out to be the money that it seemed, which is all good but now I have no money to get out. This is how it works. On regular days you pay $27 to the bossman to lease a bike and if you don't pay it before the shift it becomes $37 (27/37 rule). On Cardinal football game days the lease is $85 and on other occasions its $65. The Bumblebee follows a little system of seniority. You sign up for the next day if you worked the day before. If not you have to wait for a spot of 8 to open up between 15 people. Because I'm the most recent hire, I'm the lowest on the totem pole. I have to work every shitty slow day to get to the good day (weekend/event). What this forces me to do is to pay the $37 lease on 3 slow ass days even though some days I can't get a single ride because Phoenix downtown is a ghost town. I have seen more people walk around South Kingstown, RI than some days in Phoenix. It's pretty sad. I'm about $54 in the hole with my boss right now. I'm trying to save at least $500 to get out of here, but that doesn't seem like a prospect anytime in the near future.

So now what? Well I gotta stick it out obviously, I just hope it wont be too long. I almost landed a teaching gig, but then found it was gonna start next September. Hell no, I'm not gonna be in Phoenix for this long. Ill be really stressing if I have to be here until Thanksgiving. That's the thing about this place that's getting to me. I feel like I'm slowly losing my peace that I fought so hard to reach to. I've almost quit my meditations. I've stopped skating. I really haven't skated since I got here. Work is about 25 miles away since I live in Mesa and work in downtown Phoenix. Reggae is weak here. The only spot I've come across, the Sail Inn in Tempe has a reggae band every Thursday night but there are like 10 people in the whole place. It's dead.
I want to be alone so bad, I want to be on the road again

"Lord I gotta keep on moving, Lord I got to get on down
Lord I gotta keep on moving, where I cant be found
Lord they coming after me

Ive been accused on my mission, Jah knows you shouldn't do
For hanging me they were willing, and thats why Ive got to get on through
Lord they coming after me

I know someday I'll find that piece of land somewhere not nearby babylon
The war will soon be over and africa, will unite the children who liveth in
darkness have seen the great light

Lord I got to keep on moving, Lord I got to get on down
Lord Ive got to keep on moving, where I cant be found, where I cant be found
Lord they coming after me"

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bob Marley & the Wailers - Waiting in Vain

From the very first time I blessed my eyes on you, girl
My heart says follow through.
But I know, now, that I'm way down on your line
But the waiting feel is fine
So don't treat me like a puppet on a string, cause I know how to do my thing
Don't talk to me as if you think I'm dumb
I wanna know when you're gonna come - soon.
I don't wanna wait in vain for your love.
Cause if summer is here I'm still waiting there
Winter is here, And I'm still waiting there
Like I said,
It's been three years since I'm knockin' on your door, and I still can knock some more
Ooh girl, ooh girl, is it feasible?I wanna know now, for I to knock some more.
In life I know there's lots of grief
But your love is my relief
Tears in my eyes burn - tears in my eyes burn
While I'm waiting - while I'm waiting for my turn

I don't wanna wait in vain for your love

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 120: October 2nd 2009, The Good Word From Phoenix

So Im still here in Phoenix, Arizona. I'm living with a couple of friends from high school in Mesa who I haven't seen in 2003. Its been nothing but good old times. I also got a job and yesterday was my first day. I work for the Bumblebee Pedicab Service in Downtown Phoenix, drving drunk people around and I'm loving it. The money seems to be great. I still haven't set a date to leave yet, but I gotta make my money. If its cool with Keil and Hannah I'll ask if I can chill until Halloween, although I had a dream last night that they wanted me out by Monday.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 112: September 24 2009, West of Florence Junction to Tempe (36 mi)

I never wrote an entry for that day. Though I really dont have much to say about it. Phoenix is fuckin huge, but skating 20 miles through an urban area is so much easier than 20 miles in the middle of an empty road (though the empty road is much more fun...usually). I got into Tempe about 5ish and met up with some old friends. I dont know how long I'm going to spend in Phoenix, but it's still an open date to this point

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 111: September 23 2009, Superior to west of Florence Junction (22mi)

Again taking my time, no rush to cover distance. Today was easy. It was so fucking windy last night. Didn't sleep well. Got up early, 6AM. One more mountain pass then down we go. I walked the first 3 miles outside of Superior. Tight, shitty shoulder gave me no other option. After the Boyce Thompson Arboritum State Park, the shoulder got wide. Widest shoulder I've ever been on. Enough to fit 2 Hummers side by side. Wider than the lanes on the road. And smoother. Thats what I'm fucking talking about.

A little hilly up until Gonzalez Pass but the tailwind was blowing strong. Kicks carried me far. I passed a guy walking cross country and he stared at me in jealousy. It seems like he had been walking for a while. He wished he had a skateboard, that's what he screamed to me as I skated past him. At the top I started stressing. For the first mile down it was steep, 6% grade steep. And the wind pushing me made me go fast, real fast, too fast for comfort, at least for me on this board. I tried to foot brake, there was no slowing down. I felt the speedwobble. Figuring I could go about 20 mi/hr comfortable, I must have been going 30 0something. I was really scared. For the first time I wished the tailwind turned into a headwind. I focused, balanced and at least it was going to flatten out eventually. At 1010 I was at Florence Junction, didn't have to put my foot down. Cruised. I thought there was going to be some services here, but nada, just a junction to Florence. Skated about 7 more miles. Finished early. Gonna just wrap it up and skate to Tempe tomorrow.

Day 110: Sept 22 2009, Claypool to Superior (10mi)

Lazy, late start. I slept until about 8ish not wanting to rush. Even decided I'd rather walk so I walked 2 miles to Miami, the copper capital of the world and got there at about 9. Had a couple of donuts, rested, being lazy, and then kept going. The road after Miami consisted of nice hills witha good tailwind for about 4 miles. Then there was some serious road construction for the next 4 miles. Tight shoulders, rough roads, and loose gravel everywhere made for a stressing skate. So I walked and came up to a flagger.
"Where are you walking to?"
"San Diego"
"Are you serious?!"
If he only knew how far I'd come. San Diego doesn't even seem that far to me anymore. Its only the next state, but it's all a mtter of relativity. The road work was serious. They were widening it, which meant that they were scraping the sides off the mountain. It ended at Top of the World. I made it safely there at about 11. I intended to keep skating to the Oak Flats Campground about 5 miles further but a man in his 40s with a limp called me over as I was trying to figure out if Top of the World Trading Post (the little shop in town) was open.
"Hey, you need a drink?" asked the old man from a distance
"Yeah, is this place open?"
"No, I got some water if you want" waving for me to come over
"Cool" So I walked over
"I used to skate"
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah a long time ago. T" extending his hand to introduce himself (I'm not going to mention his real name out of respect)
"Omar, nice to meet you. And thank you" Shaking his hand
"Have a seat here while I get you a drink" He pointed to some chairs outside his duplex

He brought me a cold Pepsi, offered beer and a cigarette but I thanked him and declined. I kept asking him questions, he didn't seem too interested in my journey. I guess he was originally from Chicago and had been living in Palm Beach for a while. He had a girl who inhereted millions from her parents and they threw it away on crack. They broke up and he moved to Phoenix. There he got involved with meth and one day got a DUI and aggravated assualt for spitting on the cop and got four years in prison. In prison, he claimed to have started receiving messages from aliens, "the grays" and "the greens". He couldn't explain it to me, the messages, that is. The only thing was that the "grays" didn't like the "greens" and something was going to go down in the future, that's all he wanted to say.

Besides the crack and the alien stuff which really didn't bother me, there wa something about his manner I felt sketched out about. He kept saying how the town of 30 people all feared the police because they thought they were spying on them. His dad found him this place after jail. He got a $600 check from the government every month after convincing them that his knee got hurt getting abducted from by aliens. With that money he paid his rent here and lived. After our conversation he asked if I wanted to walk around town to check it out. Of course. I also wanted to see how his community reacted to this guy, because I knew there was something loose.

First he took me to Top of the World Sidewinders where I met Tommy and Tammy. They were a badass couple who put car engines on motorcycles, to drag race. The engines only fit sideways, hence the name. Tommy was working on a bike that was fitted with an old V8 Corvette engine. A beast it was. They acted ok around T, but I still wasn't sure. Next he took me to the drug house as he called it. The door was slightly open and he just walked in.
"Party house" he said "doesn't seem like anyone is here"
I walked inside and it looked like a dirty college party house. I saw bags of dried pinto beans laying around everywhere. Pillos and covers on the floor told me somebody, probably more than one, were sleeping here not too long agao. Why the fuck is he showing me this nasty ass spot, I thought. We left after finding nobody and he walked with his stick and limp with the dumbest smirk on his face.

Something is up with this guy. I knew it and now I had to stick around to find out. We went back to his house and sat. He offered another Pepsi.
"So where do you sleep?"
"I find a place to camp. Im headed to Oak Flats"
"Well, aaaahh, I ain't no fag or no killer or nothing but you can sleep here"
"Cool man, we'll see what happens"
"Im gonna go see if somebody is going to town. You watch the house for me?"
"Yeah, sure"
"Alright, I'll be back"

How could this guy just leave me here in his house. I went and grabbed my book, "The Hot Zone", about Ebola and read. It was now about 430 and T had been gone for more than an hour. I had finished the last few chapters of my book and was at a loss of what to do. I thought about just leaving but didn't want to be disrespectful after his kindness. He came back 10 minutes later with a baby handle of whisky in his hand already half gone. He seemed pretty tipsy, came and sat, then lifter his hands up
"Oh the dope! I gotta go get something" as if I didn't hear what he just said.
"Yeah go ahead man"

He headed to the right where some trailers were. Again he dissappeared for a while. When I saw him coming back he was walking from the opposite direction on the highway, the same route we had taken to the drug trailer. But it was empty, why did he head over there. And why did he start off at the opposite side? Just questions. He comes and sits then about 1o minutes later I notice smoke from the eastside of town. I make nothing of it, then the smoke gets darker and darker, thicker and thicker. I get up to get a closer look.
"Man this smoke looks bad, it might be coming from Tommy's. Should we go check to see if he's alright?"
"Huh? It looks ok"

I guessed I must have been overreacting. Maybe Tommy was smoking one of his bikes or something. But the smoke only intensified. Now I saw Tommy and Tammy running out of their shop looking east.
"Man I really think we should see whatsup. Someone might need help"
He looked at me like I was hallucinating. "Uhhhh, yeah...."
"Well Im gonna go see"
I ran towards the smoke. And there is was the drug trailer was burning intensly. Like the Olympic Torch was burning.
"Son of a bitch, motherfucking druggies" Tommy was now really worried that the strong westerly wind would blow the fire right into his shop. Everything was pretty dry and the fire was spreading quick.
"Where's the fire department? Did anybody call 9-1-1?" I frantically asked
"We called them. They transferred us to Miami FD. Miami then transferred us to Superior FD. We just have to wait" a bearded man replied
"Well is there a water source?"
"That place has been abandoned for months. Junkies come and go every once in a while. It's got nothing, not even a spetic system"

The fire had now been burning for a half hour. The whole trailer was toast. It's deck was now catching on fire including a propane grill. It was so hot, you couldn'y even stand on the opposite end of the street. I took some pictures from that angle but couldn't stand for long. On hour, getting dark and still no fire truck. The fire now caught on the electric lines until they ripped and started sparking. little explosions kept goign off. The sheriff just arrived when just about the frame was left. It was still burning strong. The smoke was so thick, with the wind blowing hard towards where we stood we couldn't see. It was now dark. It stung your eyes standing 500 feet away like you were putting your head close to a campfire. The fire truck from Superior arrived 10 minutes after the sheriff followed by another from Miami in the opposite directions. People were standing everywhere on the road except for T. I looked around again for him but instead I heard an old woman talk.
"Its that crazy guy that lives down there" pointing to the direction of T's house. "I've seen him try to light things on fire before. I saw him walking past it 10 minutes before"

Oh shit I thought. I asked her what the guys name was, she didn't know but she described T. I went back to the house where he was sitting casually drinking a beer.
"How you doin man?" I asked him
"I feel great"
"Yeah? Man did you start that fire?"
"Me? No. Why would I do something like that?" I looked into his eyes. The eyes don't lie. He couldn't look me back. I knew he acted way too cool and too passive about this. I know I saw him walking from that direction 10 minuted before the smoke. He had gone into that house earlier. I walked back to where people were watching. He walks up later and asks how was it. When the sheriff walks over he goes up to him

"This guy's a dealer" poiting to a bald older man with a mustache
"T, this is not the time or place fore this" the sheriff replied
"He told me he was going to get his gun and shoot me" now replied the bald man
"Guys, please take this somewhere else"

The sheriff knew T's name. He must have done something. I had to let them know what I thought and saw. Tammy told me I should let the sheriff know too. When I said what I knew and how I met him, the sheriff told me T was bipolar. And just because he acted cool about it didn't prove anything. He wasn't all there. Either way, I wasn't about to spend the night there. The sheriff offered me a ride 8 miles to Superior and I didn't hesitate to accept. I waite until 10PM until everything was over and the sheriff was ready. I'm still pretty sure T set that place on fire.

It was a cold windy night and I couldn't wait to get into my sleeping bag. Beneath some mesquite trees I lay again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 109: September 21 2009, San Carlos to Claypool (23 mi)

Rusty start afer being easy for a whole week. The most generous locals of San Carlos insisted on giving me a ride to Phoenix. When I declined they offered to at least give me a ride to Florence Junction at the base of the mountains. Again I declined, preffereing to skate. They again insisted at least to the San Carlos line. No thank you I replied. They just couldn't comprehend why someone would want to skate and walk instead of ride in an air conditioned car. No matter how much I explained that this journey needed to be as slow as possible and to be skated as much as possible, they just couldn't comprehend. Such a kind hospitable people, that only cared for my well being.

After riding with them to Globe so many times last week to dine and shope I realized how boring it is to travel by car. You dont get to appreciate the landscape, you can't feel the elements and there is no rewarding feeling after finally reaching your destination. Everytime, I just couldn't wait to get out of the car.

Anyhow, again a necessary early start to the day, where I took rouch ass Indian Route 6 to US-70 a 12 mile ride. The road was terribly rough but after some relaxing times in San Carlos, suffering a little, I convinced myself is just fine. It took me tow hours to cover that road and I was on US 70 at 820. One mile into 70 and I was saying farwell to the reservation that has welcomed me so kindly and grdually began to greet Phoenix, which I'm so excited for to see some real old friends.

I got to Globe an hour later and ran some errands and ate. I found a little lump on my lower back right on top of my spinal cord that I'm stressin about. I can't see or take pictures of it but can feel it. If it keeps up, Im gonna have to get it checked out. i just hope it's not a disc. Down to $62.13 until Phoenix. I can make it happen easily until then, but will definetely need a job there. Taking my time. I won't cover more than 30 miles for the next week. Besides the coming 6% grade after Top of The World, AZ, I found that among all this randomness its nice to have a little routine of skating five days and resting two. My shoes' lifespan are almost up. No foot braking down the slopes, new pair in Phoenix.

I just want to get to San Diego, and get this trip over with. Not that I'm sick of it, but the more time I relax and not on the road, the more I reflect and every reflection I feel is so inaccurate because I'm still not done. Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts.

Monday, September 21, 2009

One Week in Apache Land

Well I didn't get to eat Peyote like I hoped and I didn't get to spend that much time at the Sunrise Dance like I planned but its all good because I had a great time nonetheless. Truly, Robert and Alice were such hospitable hosts, I'm so lucky I ended up with them. There are a few lessons I learned and impressions I came out with. Some of which I will share, and some which out of respect, I will not.

Life on the San Carlos reservation, I hoped would be much more traditional in an Apache way. Not that I thought people lived in tee pees but I thought traditions would have been kept. Instead I came to realize that life on the reservation, to my disappointment, was almost the same as an American town. I hoped I would eat much more traditional food, but instead I was kindly fed pizza, bacon, eggs, hot dogs, and broccoli rice. I did get to eat some delicious acorn dumpling soup though which was delicious, nothing like I have ever had before. Most people on the reservation cannot even understand Apache, let alone speak it and that's why I realized that people looked at me weirdly when I tried to greet them in Apache. It made me think about some things about me. I cannot criticize the Apaches for losing so many elements of their culture, I can say the same thing about my own. I became very disappointed seeing the effects of a people who lose their beautiful traditions.

Drinking is such a problem on the reservation (rez). A DUI is like a coming of age celebration in many ways. It was very sad to see how alcohol controlled these peoples lives. The only convenience store that sells alcohol at the reservation, the C store, from what I heard is the number one seller of alcohol in the whole state of Arizona. As a matter of fact Budweiser executives have been known to visit there. I have seen a great majority drinking 40s in the early morning or late at night. That's just what people do, drink. As a consequence, most of the community is unproductive and as Robert put it to me, the people on the reservation have no self determination, they just want to have fun. And as another consequence there is a huge problem with diabetes, heart problems, and obesity. Most people on the rez are unattractively overweight. For the tiny community of 4 or 5 thousand there is a whole diabetes center; I have never seen that in a community that size before. The Apaches have not adapted and have not evolved to the disgusting habits of modern life, drinking in alcoholic ways and fatty foods. They were once a healthy people who got everything from the environment around them, gathering and hunting, but the situation is very different now.

It is such a shame how traditions are lost. I was 'invited' to go to a Pentecostal service by an Apache minister. Christianity and Islam have both, unlike any other religion, conquered, converted, and completely dissolved the traditions of other people for the sake of seeing the light. It is so so disappointing to me.

Having said all this, there are still the proud few. I was very happy to hear one of my 'tour guides' Jameson talk to me about the Apaches fighting against a copper corporation from Australia trying to buy and mine Apache land for the sake of economic growth. When the Chinese mayor of Superior hosted a delegation of Apaches to try and find out why they were fighting, they told him that this was their sacred land that they prayed and lived on. He told them that when he came to America, he dropped his chopsticks for a spoon. Jameson wasn't there but he told me how frustrated he became with that comment. He said that his people didn't hop here on a boat from a foreign land. This was Apache land for years and years. They wouldn't give their land up to a corporation that was going to pollute their waters with toxins, destroy their holy sites and pay their ununionized workers shit wages so they can make as much money as possible and send it back to wherever they came from. That made me happy to hear.

The Apache culture is a beautiful one. Every culture is a beautiful one. The lesson I learned coming out is how sad it is to see traditions lost because of a conqueror who forcibly brings theirs upon you to bring you a better life. Life on the reservation today is a sad consequence of bringing that better life, just like the Aborigines who live in desperate poverty in Australia. I have left San Carlos and its people behind, but they will always have a special place in my heart.

The journey continues in search of more answers, which bring more questions, and force me to keep travelling. Life is good.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 103, Part II: How I Ended Up With an Apache Family

I really feel so lucky and so blessed. I'm chilling in what could probably be a 5 star accommodation trailer. Today I gathered the courage to go and ask the council for permission to stay on the reservation. They first said that I needed to purchase a permit for $10/day to be here. I said that it was out of my budget especially because I wanted to hang around for a week and witness the upcoming Sunrise Dance Festival. Let me get into the details.

After my adventures with the drunk ladies, I skated into San Carlos from Peridot after dropping them off. I got into town and there Paul who I talked about in my last post came up to me and escorted me to the library where I wrote about my adventures that day. I still didn't have permission to stay on the reservation so I went to a market right where some people where hanging out outside. I asked a lady sitting outside where I could speak to the tribal leader and she pointed me to the building next door.

"Go and ask for Chairman Windslar Nosie. His office is at the end of the hall"

I was really nervous, wondering what the outcome could be. What if he laughed in my face? Told me I wasn't welcome? Called the tribal police to escort me off the reservation? Still, I had to try, I had to at least give it a shot. I walked into that hallway as if it was a dark cave with no light on the other side. I could see the room at the end of the hallway. About three people were waiting in line to speak to the same man and here I was. This foreign looking dude with this huge bag on his back waiting behind all these locals waiting on the advice of their leader; what could he possibly want? A younger looking guy came up to me. This guy was big. I already felt tiny amongst all these people, this guy seemed like he was 7 foot tall, 300 lbs. Realistically he was about 6'2", 280lbs.

"Can I help you with something?"
"Yes, I uhh, am looking to speak with the chairman"
"In regard to what?"
"Well, I'm travelling and was wondering if I could get permission from him to stay on the reservation for bit"
"I can help you with that" I followed him into the office next door where he was already speaking to somebody about my question

A smaller but older looking man sitting on his desk and working on his laptop turns to his left to face me

"So you are travelling?"
"And you are from?"
"Egyptian, but from Rhode Island"
"Oh wow and what brings you here?"
"Well I'm riding my skateboard across the country, but I wanted to live amongst the Apaches and learn about your culture for a little. So I was wanting to get permission to stay on the reservation"
"My name is Tao, this is Patrick, Santana and Jameson" pointing to each one. "Patrick can help you with your permit to stay on the reservation, he works for Game and Fish"

Patrick was the big man that first asked me if I needed any help. He was now sitting behind his desk across facing the entrance to the room.

"Well to stay on the reservation it is $10 a night. That is one of the ways we generate income for our community. The only other way to stay on the reservation is to be the guest of a tribal member"
"Wow, well, I'm on a very limited budget while travelling and I really don't have that kind of money. I would like to spend seven nights here and witness the Sunrise Dance Festival. Is there any other way? Maybe you could let it slide this one time. I could really sleep anywhere, I don't care, underneath any tree"
"Hmmm, well its the rule"
"Maybe you can take him in house" Tao sarcastically suggested
"Yeah, but I don't know if my mom would like that" Patrick seriously replied
"So what made you want to go on this trip?" Tao was now asking me
"Well I just needed a personal journey and I really wanted to visit the west coast. I had some money and my skateboard and decided, hey why not just skate?"
"And this was after college?"
"What did you study in college?"
"Entomology and microbiology. Insects and stuff"
"So you are an American?"
"I just ask because it would be more of an issue staying here if you weren't" I figured this anyway because the Indian reservations are all under the Department of the Interior, a federal agency. If I wanted to get anything done, I thought, I had to be completely open, transparent and honest. I had my passport.
"Well I have my passport if you would like to check it out"
"Ill have a look at it" Patrick blurts out

So I dig through my bag and give it to him. He flips through the pages curiously seeing the stamps of all the places I have been. I sit in the office for sometime longer while they carry on their work and while I wait for a deliberation like an accused waiting for the jury to walk back into the courtroom and read the verdict. I decide then to go to the bathroom. When I returned I sat for about 15 more minutes on my board, my back leaning against a filing cabinet, until Tao comes up with an awesome sounding suggestion.

"Oh I know where he could stay! Alice! She hosts exchange students sometimes. Maybe she would be interested in letting you stay. Then, because you are a guest of a tribal member, you wouldn't have to pay" He calls her but she doesn't answer. After about 30 minutes as I was eating some jerky and drinking some water that was generously given to me she calls back.

"Hey Alice" He talks some business with her first and then, the important stuff "Hey remember those students from Alaska you hosted a while back, would you be interested in doing it again?" Because she was on the phone so many things ran across my mind of what she could possibly say "Well I have this guy Omar Fahmy who is travelling across the country and wanting to stay the week here," "...Yeah he is here now...he is from Egypt...can you teach her to belly dance? (laughs)...he says you need to get your stomach muscles ready...(more laughs from all)...yeah...ok" And then he hung up.
"So Omar she said she would ask her husband and let me know. I know she will say yes though"

I waited for another half hour until an older Apache woman came in. Tao was her councilman from her district and told her about my story and if she was interested in hosting me. She offered Motel 6 by the casino saying it was $40/night. When she left Tao asked me about what I thought.

"Sometimes people don't really understand travel. Even I didn't until recently. Travel to me has become about learning about others which in turn teaches me about myself. If I were to stay at a motel how would I learn about the day to day activities of the Apache people, their culture and language. Through travel I have come to the conclusion that people are the same everywhere, except for the minor cultural differences which I am interested about"

10 minutes later Jameson who was sitting across from Patrick says that he spoke to Alice. She awaited me at 8PM. Since it was only 4 Tao suggested that Patrick show me around, then take me there. I thanked Tao so much, he gave me his number and told me if I needed anything to call. Me Patrick, and Jameson left in Patrick's white Chevy Equinox. Our first stop would be Patrick's real office at Game and Fish where he suggested I change and take a shower. I did and so many questions I had. Jameson did most of the talking. I could tell he was a respected man who knew lots about the Apache culture.

At Patrick's office we had some introductory but deep conversations. It started with the Apache creation story. (I want the reader to understand that this story was told me and I'm telling you this story which makes it already 2 degrees inaccurate so please if I make mistakes, it is my fault)

Apaches believe that God, Eucen, created the world. His son, Nayet Nazyiana was the slayer of monsters who killed off all the wicked animals of the earth. Eucen also created the first Apache, St Iglesia, or the White Painted Lady. She was told to gather water at a river and there she was struck by lightning four times and that was how life began. What really fascinated me about this story was the secret combo of lightning and water. In the 1950s an experiment was done by Miller/Urey which indeed theorized that when a small electric charge, representing lightning on pre-life earth was introduced to a water medium with inorganic compounds, the inorganic compounds formed into large organic compounds including the building blocks of DNA and certain amino acids. The Apaches knew this before science was even science. I also learned about the Gann, the 'angels' of the Apaches. Each represented an animal, the most important being the bear. They were human bodies with no faces in elaborate costumes and crowns.

Jameson and Patrick then took me to a place called the Holy Grail where some of the holiest ceremonies took place. There was a cactus at each of the four corners of the place. In the middle was a clearing with one tree in the center. Next to the tree, was an area with four 'crosses' that were painted black (symbolizing the universe and the beginning of time), yellow (representing the sun), blue (water), and white (wisdom and old age). The four colors were on each cross but each cross had a different segment painted a different color. You had to enter the area with the crosses from the east and great the sun and before exiting greet and leave back from the east. I couldn't take pictures of this holy place but I'll tell you that I no doubt felt an amazing energy there.

Patrick then invited me to have a hearty buffet meal at the casino and man did I stuff myself. He opened up to me a little and let me in on a little secret.

"You know, I have to tell you when you left for the bathroom at the tribal council, we joked that 'what if there was a bomb in his bag?"
"Haha, we let me tell you that as soon as I walked out I assumed just that. 'man they are probably gonna think I left a bomb in my bag'. But in all honesty I have never had any explosives training"
"We were joking, we just didn't know you and you are Egyptian"
"Man its all good, believe me at times I come to expect people to think this and say things like this. Don't think you are the first. Let me tell you something. When I intended to come into your reservation I wanted to know more about it so I asked people. The first was the librarian at Duncan. She strongly recommended I not go through at night because the Indians were 'crazy' and people have been kidnapped and shot there..."
"...That story she said probably didn't mention that, that missing white guy was part of a drug deal gone wrong. There were problems with the investigation because he was missing on our land and they didn't know whose jurisdiction it was"
"Exactly man, its a misunderstanding and ignorance. Its always more complicated than what people think. There is a reason. But anyway the woman at the Chamber of Commerce also told me basically the the people on the reservation are a bunch of crazy drunks. Did you think I thought that was true? No. Its just ignorance. Do you really think all my people are terrorists? Or even most? Even the ones that are, are terrorists for a deeper reason than what we know or think we know. All of us are pinned with a certain stereotype because of ignorance. Every race, even white people. People are the same everywhere, believe me. My people are no more terrorists than yours are drunk savages"

It was funny that even the Native Americans who themselves were called terrorists defending their land were now returning that deed upon me. It made me realize again that people are truly the same everywhere and it was the bullshit media that spread mistrust among us.

We left the casino and Patrick took me to my host family. When I walked in I met Robert, a much older man sitting across from a giant flat screen TV watching the MTV VMAs. I couldn't but laugh in my mind about the irony. Robert was a Choctaw and Alice an Apache. They let me stay in a trailer fit for kings this week. I have so much to learn, so many people to meet. I love the Apaches who have been so kind and hospitable to me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lyrics From the Pod

Here it is, I promised some of my playlist. It has gotten me through the worst. Music is my life.
This is the first part.

"I remember long time ago, you left me standing in the doorway crying. I said please don't leave me, you just didnt pay me no mind, kept right on going and I had to find a brand new love. I said try me, you just didnt seem, kept on moving. I said it was a mans wrold but I stepped right back and gave you credit. Said it wouldn't be nothing without a woman or a girl but that didnt phase you baby. Even when I told you I lost someone. You said go on, go on, gon find yourself a brand new love. I kept makin it baby, then you wanna come back said you want me to take care of you. Just cant seem to reach you baby. I kept right on movin. Baby there was a time when you told me I was your one and only love. Free at last. Free. Free. Free. Im over you"
"Bewildered" by James Brown

"Where you get your colly, Mr collyman, the smell just a nice up the place. Is it an ital colly outta virgin lamp, the smell is as good as the taste"
"Collyman" by Bunny Wailer

"God has many names. Dont judge noone according to the name they choose. If they speak in love, it will bring understanding. God is love"
"Many Names" by John Brown's Body

"Sun is shining, weather is sweet"
"Sun is Shining" by Bob Marley and the Wailers

"Dont go on changing, tryin to please me, you never let me down before. I would not leave you in times of trouble. Ill take the good times, Ill take the bad times, Ill take you just the way you are"
"Just the Way You Are" by Barry White

"Im your mama, Im your daddy, Im that nigga in the alley. Im your doctor when you need, want some coke have some weed. You know me, Im your friend. Your main boy, thick and thin, Im your pusherman...Silent life of crime. A man of our circumstance a vicitim of ghetto deman. Feed me money for stock and Ill you trip for a while. Insecure from the past. How long can a good thing last?"
"Pusherman" by Curtis Mayfield

"Oh lord, please lord, good lord, got to give I strength to face another day"
"Poor Man's Prayer" by John Brown's Body

"Crazy, crazy. And my crazyiness is my choice. I scream it as loud as I can. Capitals-no, no, no passports. Borders - no, no, no blockage between humans and this is my guilt. No north, no south, your nationality is your heart. Go and love and the world will love you back. Cancel lines of height, erase the lines of width. No white, no black we are all from the same Earth"
"Magnoun" (Crazy) by Wust El Balad Band - translation of Egyptian lyrics

"They just keep holding me, wont let go. I need a hammer to hammer them down. I need a rammer to ram them down. They keep teasing me, provoking me, but this is all I know"
"Hammer" by Bob Marley and the Wailers

"Theres nothing you can do that cant be done, nothing you can sing that cant be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. Its easy. Nothing you can make that cant be made. Noone you can save that cant be saved. Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time. All you need is love"
"All You Need is Love" by The Beatles

"Everybody's misused him. Ripped him up and abused him. Another junkie plan, pushin dope for the man. A terrible blow, but thats how it goes"
"Freddie's Dead" by Curtis Mayfield

"Cold ground was my bed last night, rock was my pillow too. Talkin blues. But Im gonna stare in the sun, let the rain shine in my eyes. Im gonna take one step more"
"Talkin' Blues" by Bob Marley and the Wailers

"Cool down your temper Mr Cop. Put a smile on your face while passin through"
"Mr Cop" by Gregory Isaacs

"I said who you and what you wanna do with my people? I beg you let my people go and then we gon tell them so. You think that all is well? But I know you're living in hell. Yeah man we must break that spell"
"Living Hell" by Junior Kelly

"Shine eye girl is a trouble to a man"
"Shine Eye Girl" by Barrington Levy

"Oooowee it feels so nice it happens everytime. When the music starts to play, Im picking up a good vibe and I feel no pain"
"Good Vibes" by John Brown's Body