Sunny today, at least we have that.
We have tried several more options for bike storage, none of them are panning out. My new wheel has not come in at the shop yet, so I am back at the King's Head. . .just waiting. . .having fish and chips.
Cookie needs to go to the Festival office to submit his evaluation as a volunteer. We make a short stop at my favorite shop for two pan aux raisins for tomorrow's long journey. The gal at the Festival office has some photos of one of the events that she loads onto a disc for Cookie and she thanks him for being involved with the Festival.
VICTORY! Not only is my bike fixed (not that I was going anywhere today) but we have negotiated a deal with the owner of the bike shop to store our bikes for the year! The price is reasonable, and we now have peace of mind vs. the worry of leaving our bikes at the train station where there is much uncertainty. I breathe a sigh of relief. We head for the Cathedral Inn for a "last supper."
SO HERE IS THE FINAL TALLY
Thirty-one days, thirty-one blog posts, one missed route, one bent rear rack, one bent wheel, one escalator escapade, a couple of rainy rides, one very cold afternoon, fun storytelling, fun visits with old friends, fun making new friends, some tilting at windmills and many new adventures. I couldn't ask for more!
It's OK, Ginger, daddy will be home tomorrow night.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Sunny today, at least we have that.
A good night's sleep can do wonders! And a good breakfast too.
Having been restored to my former self, it is time to attempt to restore the bike. The bike store must order a wheel and they should have it tomorrow. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, Cookie and I transfer to the YHA. He rides over with his bags first, then I take his bike back to the hotel and load my bags on and ride over. We check in and head for. . .that's right. . .the King's Head for lunch and internet.
After lunch, I go to the train station to check schedules and buy my ticket for the Wednesday morning train to the airport. Then I do a little wandering about town, looking for a new place to possibly store my bike. The are a few options, but I may need to just use the train station again. I do have a better lock and big, heavy chain now. We'll see.
Okay, this time I took the picture BEFORE I ate dinner: salad, lemon shrimp over rice, green beans with red onions, and ciabatta bread. Admittedly, I cooked in the YHA kitchen, but could have done this on the trail as well. I only used my pot and my pan.
Tomorrow is day 31 of my "holiday trip". I hope the bike can get fixed, and I am looking forward to one more day in Salisbury before heading home.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Rain. Again. Rain. All night long. In the morning it continues to come down.
I want to stay in my tent until it stops or lets up. It will not.
We break camp and pack up in the rain. I just love packing a wet tent and equipment.
Cookie and I have agreed that we will head straight for the nearest train station and go directly to Salisbury, do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not bike farther than you have to. We will go to the YHA vs. the campground. We need to dry out. The route is flat, but it is still raining. . .and cold. It's that "cold-to-the-bone" feeling where you can't seem to get warm at all. We must wait at the station for one hour until the train comes, change at Southampton, wait another 15 minutes, then the long way 'round to Salisbury.
I should tell you that almost all of the tralns in England are fairly new. They are different than the older trains, and one of the differences is that there is a gap between the steps of the train and the existing platform. Every train has a recording (or the conductor announces) as it approaches each station that tells passengers to "Mind the gap between the train and the platform." We have heard this so often, that it has become like the flight attendants' announcements. We pay little attention to it.
I should have paid more attention.
As I exit the train at Salisbury, I back out of the car with my bike, miss the platform and my foot and leg goes straight down into the "gap". The bike jerks backward onto the platform. I am OK, but as I rise and pull the front of the bike off of the train, I realize that something is wrong. I have twisted the back wheel. It is completely out of alignment. I can walk with it, but cannot ride. Mind the gap. . .between my ears.
So here we are, pouring rain, bone chilling cold, and a bike that cannot be ridden. There is only one thing to do. . .head for a nice, dry hotel with a hot shower and soft, cozy beds. The White Hart Inn fits the bill. A bit more expensive than the YHA, but breakfast is included, we can dry out and warm up, and they take very good care of us! After dinner, I take that hot shower, then crawl into bed at 6:30. I sleep till the morning.
Saturday - June 11
Neighborly neighbors! It's another sunny morning (we know that won't last). But the brightest part of the morning is our neighbors. As we are breaking camp, a woman comes over from one of the caravan units. She feels sorry for us that we had to endure the rain last night, and offers us a hot cup of tea.
Julie, her son Elliott and husband Peter are also "on holiday". Elliott has a new camera and wants to try it out by taking our picture. I take their picture in return, and give them my blog info and e-mail so he can send it to us. We chat for quite a while before heading out for the morning. Another wonderful moment to treasure.
There is certainly a lot of history in Portsmouth. Since the 15th century, the port has seen many conflicts. We travel up the beach and see long walls of defense with canons at the ready. There are several man-made islands in the bay with small forts. Here I am with the Spinaker monument in the far background, and another monument to maritime fighters just behind me.
Our destination today is a campground outside of Romsey, a small town past Southampton, about halfway between Portsmouth and our base of Salisbury. We reach Fareham and realize that we have some distance ahead of us, and opt to train the rest of the way to Romsey. Good idea, as after Romsey, those pesky roundabouts get us turned around and about a bit until we finally get on track and find the campground.
I should mention that the campgrounds in the smaller villages, or in the countryside, are much friendlier and less adamant about "one tent per pitch." The very nice lady here only charges us one fee for both our tents. She does admonish us though to, "Put your tents on the grass, not on the bare patches. We get a lot of rain here and wouldn't want you to wash away!"
A dinner of lamb burgers, rice, and sauted broccoli with onions finishes out the day. The sun is setting and it is getting a bit chilly, so it is time to turn in. Tomorrow it is back to Salisbury, then just two more days until my holiday ends.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Friday - June 10
We couldn't get away from the windy campground fast enough. Little did we know what was in store for us.
Breakfast in Rye and a walk around the village with at least two old-time haberdashers and lots of antique dealers. As it is another gray day, we decide to take the train to Hastings, site of the famous battle, just down the coast. Upon arrival, we find the battle was lost to a world of Coney Island type arcades and attractions. Not what we had expected.
After lunch, we head straight for Portsmouth, where Cookie assures me that, "It's a much nicer campground, no wind or screaming kids, and not as expensive."
Three trains, four hours later, and a three mile bike ride, we arrive in Portsmouth at the Southsea Liesure Park. Hmmm. Twenty pounds per tent, and quite windy. We set up our tents and head for the campground restaurant. A tiny building with an adjoining game room.
The food is passable. It begins to rain. And then. . .karaoke. And it's raining. We are trapped. Imagine a 70 year-old English barfly, after several pints, in a duet with a roly-poly barmaid, who may have had a few pints herself. Words can't really describe the sounds coming from this place. Remember William Hung from American Idol? He would shine here! Time to face the rain, rather than face the music!
A forecast of winds gusting up to 25 mph prompts us to stay in Ashford for one more day. We have a liesurely breakfast, and do some laundry. I take an extra long shower. Then we head for town. Sorry Mick, but we find an even better route into town; one that avoids some of the harrowing highway crossings you took us through.
We spend the afternoon at Wetherspoon Inn, writing and catching up on FB. We stop and pick up some groceries, then it's back to camp.
Mmmm. I have a nice dinner of meatballs in a garlic, tomato sauce over lime rice. Oops, guess I should have taken the photo BEFORE dinner!
Talked with Mother and also Gabby. Time for bed.
Thursday - June 9
We rise to a sunny morning that turns cloudy just as we are leaving. Hmmm. We are headed to Rye, a small town near the southern coast. The ride is nice, no big hills. The clouds look ominous, so we stop to put the rain covers on our gear. We pass through Appledore (love that name) and as we head out of town and hit the open meadow, it begins to rain. Hmmm. No shelter from trees here, just keep pedaling and wiping the rain from my glasses. You know it is not good when you are riding in the rain, then you look towards where you are headed and see a "wind farm"!
Eventually the rain subsides and we stop at the Woolpack Inn, a 15th century inn. Probably named that as every farm around here has a ton of sheep, grazing in the field. We dry out and have lunch, then it is back on the road.
The rain has stopped, but now the wind is our enemy. I am in the lower gears most of the way now. I know why there is a wind farm ahead of us. The wind here is non-stop. Oh well. . .at least it is flat.
We arrive in Rye. It is actually a port town. There is a river that is fed by the sea. The only problem is that during low tide, the river is drained, and all the boats sit on the bottom, about twenty feet below their docks!
There is a lot of activity here: men bowling on the green; lots of antique shops and shoppers; a town market today - a bustling little village.
By the time we arrive at the campground, we have done 28 miles!
Let me tell you about this camping spot. Hmmm. This place is filled with mobile homes that are rented out, or purchased like time shares. There are rows and rows of mobile homes. Probably close to 400. The caravans (winnebagos) and tenters are relegated to an open field that is right across the road from the beach. The wind in this field could knock your socks off. It almost flattened my tent! Once again, it is constant.
After much consternation in setting up in the wind, we walk to the "entertainment center." It has a restaurant (way over priced), a convenience store (closed at 6:00 pm), and a game arcade room (filled with screaming kids). There is also a cabaret/bar that plays host to bingo; then a family-oriented show, complete with a Simon Says dance-along; and some other, late-night entertainment that we didn't stay for.
We turn in about 8:00. We are both exhausted from the wind. It is still blowing. The folks near me are talking loadly and joking. I put in my ear plugs. . .zzzzzz.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Tuesday - June 7
The rain has stopped!
We break camp and wipe down all our equipment. The rain flys, tents and ground cloths were a bit soiled from all the rain and some mud splatter. We are heading for Ashford, just 15 or more miles southwest of Canterbury. We shall follow the National Cycle Route 18, which we spotted near the old castle in town. The sun is out and we are on our way.
We head down the big hill, skirt the center of town and head around to the train station, and the begining of the route. Hmmm. We are heading southwest, but somehow we miss the actual route. Well, at least we are misguided together.
We are back on normal English roads. . .which means hills! The first ones we hit are not too steep, and I am able to stay on the bike and pedal, albeit in the vey lowest gear. As the day wears on, I get more tired and find it more difficult. Eventually, the steep hills I must walk. Cookie, as always seems to manage the hills on the bike. I just need more practice. Aye, there's the rub - more practice means going up more steep hills, which is what I am having difficulty with in the first place! Sheesh!
We eventually find route 18 and follow it into Ashford. We have biked 20 miles! We also find our "Wetherspoon" Inn franchise (same as the King's Head in Salisbury where the food is good, prices are reasonable and there is free wi-fi). A quick, late lunch, a stop at a grocery store and we are on our way to the campground which is about 3 more miles from the city.
After about five blocks, we stop and are not sure of the direction and route. The sight of two loaded down cyclists, looking at the map and pointing in all directions is too much for a local man named Mick. He is also on a bike and recognizes our dilema. We show him where we are going, and like so many other folks who have been so gracious in helping us, he says that we should not head down the highway. He has a better route and starts to explain, but realizes it is a bit complcated.
"I will cycle with you. Follow me." Indeed, he takes us on a path that weaves back and forth across the streets, but definitely avoids the four-lane highway. Mick is originally from Holland, and lives in the area now. He said he couldn't leave two fellow cyclists stranded as he saw us. Eventually, he gets us to about a mile from the campground and points us in one direction as he heads up the road in the other. It should be said that eventually, Cookie and I would have found our way, Mick just made it a lot easier and friendly.
Thanks Mick for saving the day, and making us feel welcome. Dank je!
We get to the campground, set up and cook dinner. We have done a total of 24 miles today, and although the highest altitude we reached was 524 feet, my GPS shows that with our ups and downs on the hills, we ascended a total of 1611 feet!
By now, it is almost 9:00 pm. Time for some internet check-ins, blogging and then to bed, as the sky is clear and the night becomes crisp and chilly. . .but at least dry.
Monday, June 6, 2011
In tents, rain. Intense rain.
I awake at 5:00. It rained all night and is still coming down. I go back to sleep and wake again at 8:00. It is still raining. An hour later, the heavens still have their spouts open. I head for the blockhouse, shower (I suppose I could have done it outside in the rain, but it is a few degrees warmer inside) shave and decide I can be in the tent no longer. I let Cookie know that I am off to the pub for beakfast, and head down the hill. . .in the rain.
Cookie joins me later and we have breakfast while we wait out the rain (good luck). We catch up with each other on our separate adventures of the past two weeks. We laugh and cry together. It is good to spend time with him again. We look at the map, and make plans to head southwest tomorrow for Ashford, or beyond if we can.
Our first stop after breakfast??? Our favorite store - Poundland (where everything is one pound)! By the way, I looked for, but could not find a Euroland or anything similar in Holland or Belgium. We stock up on tchotchkeys and then visit other stores in town for similar stuff that we really don't need.
The rest of the day is spent walking about Canterbury, chatting, telling stories, revisiting some of our favorite places and ending up back at the pub for some dinner and blogging. Except for the rain, a great day!
Tomorrow we ride.
Sunday - June 5
It's windy, very windy. No rain yet, but better break camp and pack first. That done, the wind has subsided a little and I make a quick fried egg sandwich. Yeah, another sandwich in Sandwich, who'd have thought? I pack up the kitchen gear, put the rain covers over all the bags (see pic above) and head out.
I have a map, but I am following a National Cycle Network bike route. These are well marked routes that generally follow back roads or bike paths throughout the country. I really don't need the map, but it is fun to follow along with each turn to plot my progress. One does have to stay alert though. I was coming down a hill and my gears were slipping. I was so focused on the gears that I almost missed a road at the bottom of the hill. I saw it, went past it, stopped and wondered, "Hmm, was that a turn?" Sure enough, it was.
Eighteen miles, two short "walking hills", and two and one half hours later, I arrive in Canterbury just as it starts to drizzle. I stop for some lunch, then head for the train station to meet Cookie, coming from Salisbury. He is not on the train, and I think he may be arriving at the other train station. I decide to head for the campground and get camp started.
The campground is up a steep hill, and I end up walking it, as I have before. When I arrive, I find that Cookie arrived an hour earlier than expected and has already set up his tent. It is raining harder now, and I set up in the rain, a wonderful experience.
We head back to town in the rain and find a pub to have dinner and check our internet accounts. I check in with my sister Sally by phone and she updates me on mother and what's happening at home.
Back up the hill in the rain to the campground. Get in the tent and finish setting up the sleeping pad and bag and it is lights out! It's only 8:30, but there is nothing else to do on Sunday night in Canterbury. The rain continues as I drift off.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
OK - I just couldn't resist! Most of you could have guessed this would happen. I traveled half-way round the world for a joke.
It's a sleepy little village with a lot of midieval history. Actually some of the area goes back close to 2000 years. But today, there is a Town Crier, anouncing the craft fair at the church (I really think he is in tears because of my picture of the sandwich). I visit the fair and then ride around town, taking in the tiny one-way streets and quaint shops.
I ride 3 miles to Richborough, site of the ruins of a fort, originally built by the Romans sometime around 64 AD, when they set out to conquer Britain. There were many itterations of the fort over the years, depending on who was in power, and who was trying to take power. See the pic above: juxtaposition of ancient and modern. . .the remains of the fort with a power generating stack behind to the right, and a modern-day power generating windmill to the left.
I return to town and connect at the Sandwich library, call Cookie on Skype and we coordinate meeting in Canterbury tomorrow. Head back to camp for a short nap while I charge the Tablet with the solar charger.
The campground folks have recommended a fish and chips place in town, so I try them for dinner (I would cook myself, but it is very windy, and I just don't feel like fighting the wind). This is supposed to be authentic, English fish and chips, but when the guys behind the counter converse with each other, they all speak in French! C'est la poisson et chips!
I am back at the pub, in the corner blogging, but pause long enough for dessert, Sticky Toffee Puding with cream. . .yes. . .I am on vacation and off my diet.
Tomorrow: A 15-20 mile ride to Canterbury. Supposed to be windy and wet. Let's hope that at least that I can pack up before it gets wet. One can always hope.
Today is a long travel day: from Brugge to Lille by train; change to Calais by train; take the ferry to Dover; take a train to Sandwich. Whew!
The best part: I was supposed to have a one hour layover in Lille, but when we arrive, I ask the conductor which platform the Calais train will be on. He points across to the next platform and says the train is leaving for Calais right now. He calls to the conductor of the other train and they waive me on - no wait - yea!
Another good thing is that when I got to Calais (France) I remembered the route from the train station to the ferry. And when the ferry landed in Dover (see pic of white cliffs above) I remembered the route to the train station. The brain is still there!
Twenty minute train ride to Sandwich, quick pedal through the town and find the campground. I have a huge pitch all to myself. Do these folks know something I don't? I set up camp (very windy) and head for a local pub where I sup. I ask if there is wi-fi and the proprietor, a very sweet lady, sets me up in a corner and unplugs the cigarette machine so I can charge my tablet. What a pleasure.
After uploading blogs, I stop at the co-op for some eggs, then turn in. . .with ear plugs to block the trains that pass every 30-45 minutes. Good night.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Thursday - June 2
A beautiful, sunny day in Brugge. There are many, many museums here: a museum of folklore; a diamond museum; a chocolate museum. I am looking forward to as many as I can do. I check at the campground reception regarding a grocery store nearby for when I return and will make dinner. "There are two, but they are closed today. It's a holiday."
Oh well. I head into town to see what I can find. As I ride down the street towards the canal, I am aware that nothing is open. Every store, shop, service is closed. This must be some big holiday. I cross the canal and ride around town. Everything in town is gesloten. Shut down tight, museums included!
There are people walking around, they seem to be heading to the town square. I make my way there, and it is teeming with people. Crowds abound as I discover it is some sort of religious Festival of the Procession of Blood. There are chairs and bleachers everywhere in preparation for people to watch the procession, which goes throughout the entire town.
As crowds and processions of blood are not my thing, I decide to head back to camp. As luck would have it, I pass right by the chocolate museum and it is open. Mmmmm. There is a short film on the history of chocolate, and a nice demonstration on how they make those little chocolate candies filled with nuts and other stuff. . .and they hand out some samples too. I am including a picture of chocolate purses here for Sheri.
I head back to camp, do some laundry and putter about. As none of the stores are open, I am relegated to a second night of black beans and rice, this time with a scrambled egg mixed in (don't want to waste it, or take it with me back to England). Thank goodness for my dehydrated foods!
A little blogging, then off to bed as tomorrow is another day of full travel. Goodby Brugge, sorry I missed you.
If you are queamish, don't read this post.
To my sister Sally & my friend Gabby:
DO NOT READ THIS POST!
DO NOT PRINT THIS POST OR SHOW IT TO MOTHER!
Antwerp Central Station - The Rest of the Story
I arrived at the Antwerp station with 20 minutes to change platforms. This is a huge station with many levels, at least four that I can see. I am on the bottom level. I find the lift, but it is not working. I flag down a trainman and he says there is no other lift, but it is OK to use the escalator. "With the bike?" "Yes, it's OK." Hmmm.
OK, I figure, I will just hold tight to the brakes and I will be fine. I forget that the bike is "back-heavy" with the paniers. As the steps begin to rise and steepen, the front of the bike rears up like a frightened horse. The bike starts slipping backward, down the moving steps. I loose my balance. The bike with heavy bags now begins to topple backwards on top of me. I am upside down. I am backwards. I am upside down and backwards. I have no paddle. I cannot do a roll. I am drowning.
I have visions of my clothing getting caught and strangling me, like I am in some strange horror movie. I hear a woman yelling, "Stop, stop, stop!" If there is a kill button, no one pushes it. I hear people behind/below me. I cannot get up. I feel them steady the bike and stop it/us from moving backwards. I catch my breath but still cannot get up. I cannot reach the handrail to pull myelf up. I hold my breath and ride out the moving stairway.
We all reach the top where the bike and I are deposited, like baggage onto a carousel. Finally. . .dry land.
I manage to stand and try to gather myself. I try to right the bike, but it is heavy, and the front wheel has turned around 180 degrees. It takes me a moment to orient myself, and eventually get the wheel around and the bike upright and steady.
There appears to be no damage to the bike. Paniers are still on tight. Brake and gear cables all OK. The spout of my water bottle was slightly open and water has spilled in various places. My shirt and pant leg are wet. How could I have been so stupid? Only a complete idiot would have attempted such a stunt. The embarassment mixed with fear begins to subside as people move on to their own destinations. I do not even have a chance to thank the people who helped me. I never saw them.
I find an information screen and find the correct platform number. I am on level one. I must go up three more levels.
Now a new fear exists. What if I miss my train? How will I get up without the lift. I cannot survive a similar ascent.
I need to take a deep breath, splash some water on my face. I scout the next escalator. How can I run this rapid? What line and direction should I take? Aha! I shall do this backwards!
I turn the bike around and gently "back" on to the escalator, holding both brakes fast and placing my body on the lowest step. I have tamed the escalator! Two more, just like that one and we are home free. I have ascended to the top level, in more ways than one.
Years ago, I ran Badger rapid, and survived the rest of the Big Water of the Grand Canyon. In Belgium, I had a tumble, but I got back up and prevailed over the Big Escalator of Antwerp Central Station.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Wednesday - June 1
The sun is shining! A great day to ride. But first, breakfast. . .my way. Two eggs over medium with hash browns and half a croissant with butter and cinnamon and sugar. No meat today, but, still, a very respectable meal. I take my time packing up, and between the shaver outlet in the shower room and my new solar charger (oh yeah, did I mention that I have another new gadget?) my Tablet and cell phone are charged up and ready to go. I set the solar panel on the back of the bike so it will charge some batteries while I am riding. I do love technology.
False start as I leave the campground and realize that my glasses are not in my pocket, on the top of my head, or on my face. A quick turn around and I find them on the grass. Now I am truly on my way. I set the GPS so I can know the real distance, vs. My wayward path on the way here. I pass by some sheep and this time, instead of Babe's rhyming greeting, I merely let out a, "Baa. . .baaa. . .baaaaa." One small lamb lifts its head and stares as if to say. "How did that sheep learn to ride a bike?"
I have resigned myself to the wind, I just thought it would be at my back. No such luck. Today is market day in Lekkerkerk. I take some time to browse, but nothing catches my eye. I stop for one last apple turnover from the bakery I have been three times. The proprietor recognizes me and says, "Still €1.35." I move on and follow the bike path along the river, determined to not get off course this time.
There are a few spots where I find myself standing for several minutes, trying to reconcile the map with the strange European signs and markers. I have a bit of trouble as I attempt to find and cross the bridge that I had missed on the trip out. A young woman tells me in Dutch to follow her. Again, this one is cranking on her bike. I cannot keep up, but we are on the bridge now and I wave to her with a, "Dank je." I pump across the bridge and head down the path. The woman is waiting for me at a "T". Somehow she knew I couldn't do it on my own. She assures me, in Dutch, that I must go left, even though I think I should go right. I do the right thing. . .and follow her advice. I follow the path and eventually get back into the city.
A note here about the use of the WC (water closet) when you are in public. By this time, I need one in a bad way. I stop at a bike store. I am told they don't have one. So what the heck to THEY do when they have to go? I stop at a grocery store. I am told it is only for customers. "I am a customer," I say. Then I am told, "It's NOT for customers." What do they think I am going to do? Steal the bathroom? I stop at an Indonesian restaurant. I head for the WC and indicate to a woman there that I am going to use the WC. She tells me that if I am not eating, it will be fifty cents. "Fine!" I say. I would have agreed to almost any price by now. As I am leaving, I go up to her and hand her one Euro and say. "Here is one Euro, let the next guy go for free." I did not stay to see her reaction.
By the way, my GPS says I have traveled 17 miles from the campground. This means that with getting lost on the way out, I probably DID do 25 miles! I knew I was tired for a reason.
Heading for Brugge, Belgium. The lady at the ticket booth at Central Station hands me my itinerary and says I will change in Antwerp, and I have five minutes. "This will not do, I have a bike," I reiterate. She redoes the ticket and now I have twenty minutes to change platforms and trains. Much better.
On the first leg to Antwerp, I meet Carlos Lopez who is a Director of Operations for a Honduran company that exports produce all over the world. He asks what I do and we talk about storytelling and the use of narrative in companies and organizations. He is interested and we will e-mail after my vacation. He is quite an interesting man and wants to know what kind of stories I tell so. . .naturally, right there on the train (while I am holding on to and steadying my bike) I tell him Stealing Smells. He loves it and will look it up on Google so he can translate it and tell it to his five children. What are the odds that I would choose that particular train car and we would meet?
After Antwerp, it is another hour and a half before I get to Brugge. I call the campground for directions, and the woman says, "When you come out of the station, go to the right and take the bike path." Not the best of directions, but after another call, I find my way. By now, it is after 8 pm. I set up the tent, and then my table and begin to cook dinner. Two women who are at the tent next to me are watching all this and finally say they are amazed at how organized I am, and they marvel at my table. All they have is a small burner stove and a large-type whistling water kettle. They are heating water and filling hot-water-bottles and putting them inside their jacets to keep warm.
After a dinner of rice and black beans, it is time to turn in. A long travel day ends.