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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.  

Final Fu-Fu

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.

Life is GOOD!

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.

Gothic Cathedral of Burgos

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.

Please Feed Us

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.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Carole #

    So are you going back to Africa?? Morocco? I am sure the respite in Spain is worth it! Matt is here, leaves tomorrow and we go to OR on Tuesday, back home in Denver 12/5. Will be thinking about you on Thanksgiving and thankful for your logs and sacrifice, to remind us of all the abundance we have. I am glad you are heeding some of the warnings; you continue in my prayers.


    November 22, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Hi Carole,

      We will head to Morocco soon. Happy Thanksgiving to you too! Thanks for your kind words.


      November 23, 2009
  2. Carole #

    You prove my point. You need to experience trials to apreciate the rest.


    November 22, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Hi Mike,

      Truly, we thought more about you in Africa than in Spain. We quote you all the time, “These are the things we will remember!”


      November 23, 2009
  3. Sarah Wright #

    When Mom and Dad took us to Europe, we stayed in tiny little hotels in nowhere places. And it was great, don’t get me wrong — but arriving at a Sheraton in Milan after three weeks was like a religious experience. Sleeping in that duvet was like handling the shroud of Turin.

    Also, have you eaten any olives? We all remember the olives in Spain were amazing.

    November 22, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Hi Sarah,

      Yes, the olives come with every drink! Cannot help, but to finish each plate. We’re leaving Santiago de Compostela this morning, in search of more olives.


      November 23, 2009
  4. Matt W. #

    “Spanish Picnic on a Puegot” might be my favorite pic yet.

    November 23, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Matt, those picnics on the side of the road are truly some of the best travel moments, as I know you know.

      November 26, 2009
  5. Maralice #

    I love the spraying of the plane when you left Ghana, I laughed so hard, “because…maybe we all stink…” I was catching up on your adventures and read your previous blog where you were writing about the sewers streams you and your food (chickens) had crossed and next you’re on the plane getting sprayed. I guess living in those conditions for a month, you wouldn’t notice if you had a particular odor or not.

    November 28, 2009

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