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roel krabbendam

143 Blog Entries
7 Trips
687 Photos


Spare Change

Shorthand link:


Here's a synopsis of my trips to date (click on the trip names to the right to get all the postings in order):

Harmattan: Planned as a bicycle trip through the Sahara Desert, from Tunis, Tunisia to Cotonou, Benin, things didn't work out quite as expected.

Himalayas: No trip at all, just dreaming for now.

Heaven: A bicycle trip through Holland. Most significant challenges: one injury, would the kids make it, and where to find coffee and pastry every day.

Spare Change: Cheap motels and greasy spoons from Boston, MA to Tucson, AZ.

Amazon: The backup plan if the Himalayas don't work out.

Heat: A week of dessication in the Grand Canyon. Thank god for that horrid powdered electrolytic drink mix.

Bhutan: A couple of weeks at the invitation of a client to visit the kingdom of the thunder dragon and gross national happiness.


Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

The sun rises as I board the flight for Tunis, and when we land it is without my bicycle. The one I paid $125 extra to send…I guess I forgot to pay for it to arrive. It is overcast and cold here.

My fluent Arabic comes in handy as I describe a very large cardboard box containing a very important toy. Everyone is very nice, and the bike will be here at 7pm. I find a very entrepreneurial cab driver…well, he finds me…and I overpay him to get me to the hotel, where the room smells vaguely of unwashed toilets. The promised internet access is unavailable. I call my wife and discuss my day with her answering machine.

(Look ma...no hair)

Sleep. The fact that I just left the two girls I love the most for this hare-brained adventure won’t feel as awful in the morning, but it certainly does now.


permalink written by  roel krabbendam on December 20, 2006 from Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
from the travel blog: Harmattan
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Minor indignities

Paris, France

7 hours in a dark cabin feeling the blood flow cease to your legs, eyes closed but unable to sleep, simply waiting: to arrive, to start, to cease simply imagining this trip. I remember a time when flying fascinated me, and I could sleep on a flight. No more.

Air France charged me $125 extra to send my bicycle. Could have been worse...

The TSA allows one quart-size clear plastic ziplock bag filled with containers each holding no more than 3 ounces of liquid, as long as this bag is not concealed. A tube of Tom’s toothpaste holds 6 ounces: who knew? They confiscate my toothpaste in Boston, and to get my sunblock through I go through the entire wait-in-line-for-10-minutes-remove-shoes-and-coats-expose-laptop-and-all-other-electronics-pass-through-metal-detector-answer-innocuous-questions routine twice.

Dinner menu:
1. Supreme de poulet au paprika
2. Haricots verts
3. Pommes de terre a la lyonnaise
4. Camembert
5. Gateau avoine-raisin
6. Vin rouge

I watch a French movie about a French president corrupted by power: I think it ends with him considering the murder of his own daughter to protect his agenda. My French is exceptionally bad. The movies are unedited for content: no American prurience regarding what your kids see on the screen of the stranger sitting next to them.

When Paris arrives, it is as lights in the darkness outside, surprisingly close. It looks just as Boston did when we left, and for the briefest moment it feels like coming home. It isn’t Paris, anyway, but suburb after suburb until we touch down.

At Charles de Gaulle I suddenly discover that I’m booked on a different flight for Tunis then I purchased over the internet, and that my 8 hour layover is now only an hour. I was watching my bike box and my toothpaste tube instead of my ticket, I guess.

permalink written by  roel krabbendam on December 19, 2006 from Paris, France
from the travel blog: Harmattan
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Expectations and preconceptions

Boston, United States

Results of a year spent reading up on Africa:

1. I will meet:
kidnappers ("Niger captors threaten to kill Italians:radio", Reuters, 25 August 2006)
child soldiers (www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/people/features/childrensrights)
drug smugglers ("Austrian tourists missing in Sahara", BBC News, 5 April 2003)
voodoo worshipers ("Is Voodoo a force for good or bad?", BBC 1 January 2006)
snakes, scorpions, mosquitoes and flies (The Great Sahara, Wellard)
2. I can buy:
contraband meteorites (www.saharamet.com/meteorite/data/sahara/nwa/html)
children ("Shameless Star Buys African Souvenir", NYPost, 12 October 2006)
3. I can't buy:
uranium ("What I Didn't Find in Africa", NYTimes, 6 July 2003)
4. I can sell:
hazardous waste ("UN Warning on E-Waste Mountain", BBC News, 27 November 2006)

...should be good.

permalink written by  roel krabbendam on December 14, 2006 from Boston, United States
from the travel blog: Harmattan
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