The Cost of Freedom
In Western Africa when we order food, we watch the workers run to the market and purchase items. We learn to nurse our drinks…because they will take hours to pound-out Fu Fu, slaughter a goat, or pluck a sewer-running chicken, but it is certainly fresh…no preservatives.
On our flight from Ghana, to changing planes in London, the airline attendants walk through the crowded aisles and spray canisters into the air.
A voice of authority blares through the speakers, “We are currently freshening up the air, a normal practice of British Airways.”
Mare and I wonder if they only do this on the flight from Ghana to London, because…maybe, we all stink? I’ve never seen an airplane spray passengers before. Are we being de-loused or something? The streaming air from the canisters burns our nose. Is it insecticide? Who knows?
Changing planes in London, we enjoy the personal space we’re accustomed to, for an hour or two. When we land back in Madrid, Spain, it’s time to splurge…on a rental car…an apartment on wheels, something we North Americans savor. Ahh…how we enjoy the individual freedom of rolling up and down the picturesque hills and mountains, with fresh, cool air blowing through the windows. Stopping when we want to, we get lost, but eventually find our way. When we get lost we see things we would never see, if on an organized tour. We look forward to the drinks and tapas of Spain’s northern coast.
At our first stop, in the city of Burgos, an imposing, gothic Cathedral provides a land mark for driving in this walking-friendly town. Still in splurge mode, we cop a one-hundred dollar hotel, where you have to pay fifteen dollars for parking and ten for breakfast (US currency). We bask in a shower, with a hard stream of water offering the option of hot. We even enjoy perfumed soap, and plenty of room to move about, with free Wi-Fi to boot.
As we walk to our first “tapas” bar, we order two beers, but receive no tapas. Plates of tapas, (luscious appetizers) sit under a glass counter, like an old cake in a diner on Route 66, but the owner ignores us. Now, we enjoy being anonymous for a change, but really want some food. The owner sits at a table, and eats a full plate of shrimp with his wife, and we get the message. So, we head out for another establishment in this medieval town, walking around in Oz, as if in a dream. We venture into a different bar, where even more enticing tapas sit on display, and after ordering a beer, we get ignored again. The staff sit at a table and gossip, while we wonder what we need to do to order food. Finally, I approach them, and we order tapas…mussels, tuna, eel, blood sausage, all combined in a mushroom and fresh pepper sauce. Oh yeah, babe.
The waitress tells us that the place closed twenty minutes ago. We learn that the bars and restaurants close at five o’clock, and re-open at eight in the evening. Yes, Mare and I are on a totally different schedule. So, we go to a grocery store, and purchase wine, cheese, Spanish Chorizo, bread, water, jars of asparagus and strange seafoods, and of course, beer. What a great evening, sleeping with the cool, fresh air flowing through the windows. We hear the clicks of European heels, pounding the cobblestone pavement outside.
The next morning, after we pay the hotel bill, we realize that we cannot afford this type of living – $100 room, $15.00 parking, and $10.00 breakfast; $70.00 per day rental car; $20.00 road tolls, and $50.00 daily in gasoline. We ponder going back to Ghana. No, not really, we are not ready for that yet, so we decide to sleep in the car this coming evening…our apartment on wheels.