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Madrid to Mingo

Oh yeah, babe…I pull the beards from fresh mussels that I purchase at the small market in San Jose, on the southern coast of Spain. I boil some water,with some white wine, and a splash of olive oil to open the shell and expose the tender creatures. Mare and I feast in the comfort of our apartment, dunking mussels into melted garlic-butter, sipping wine, and looking out over the Mediterranean. Each evening I cook a fresh meal. Each day we hike the mountainous shore. We finally find a way to live within our daily budget, alas, a little too late. Money runs low. The reality of ending our adventure one month early closes in on our thoughts and forces us to change plans once again. While we love the endless, delectable food, and dramatic sea and mountain landscapes, we cannot afford Spain for much longer.  

Our balcony in San Jose

            We reminisce about some highlights of the adventure. The travel in West Africa, more fascinating then we initially imagine, seems like two years ago. Riding on the back of scooters while wearing stuffed backpacks, attending a live Voodoo ceremony, and walking the slave route will stay in our memory. The fatigue of relentless heat and public transport is worth the prize. The people we meet enrich our lives in so many ways, and hopefully we do the same. Worms dropping from the ceiling continues to make us laugh, and we still can’t believe that we were in a bar fight in Spain.

            Morocco makes us appreciate the freedoms of our homeland and the value of a woman’s presence. From being chased by drug dealers to riding camels into the Sahara, every day offers a lesson in culture, nature and humanity. Even the sneers of the larger cities teach us tolerance. The beautiful beach in Essaouria, the victory of finding some beer in a Muslim country, and the exposure to a different way of life serves to enhance our curiosity.

          We will never forget the warmth and friendliness of the Berbers in Morocco, the citizens of Ghana and those kind Spaniards who tended to an injured Mare. Warm, loving relationships tie all of us together. Most people in the world want the same things. If there is one thing our travels teach us, it is that people are not as different as we may think.

Ron and Abu

          We wish we could have made it to Tombouctou, and further, to the “Festival in the Desert,” but we decide to heed the warnings of the U. S. State Department and stay out of Mali at this time. The threat of terror, this time from Al Qaeda kidnapping Westerners, keeps our world small and hampers opportunities, like this festival – a chance for a poor country to prosper jujst a little. In fact, the festival is being moved closer to Tombouctou, in an attempt to ease fears and sell more tickets.

          Our final splurge brings us back to Mingo Junction, Ohio…my hometown, in the Appalachian foothills of Southeastern Ohio. We sit in yet another rental car in the darkness outside of my parents’ house, on Christmas Eve, sharing some cheer, while waiting for them to come home from evening mass. Once Ma and Pa enter the house, we knock on the front door. My mom’s scream of surprise scares us, and we scream also. Then we hug with a joyful tear. My folks find this to be the best Christmas present they could get. So do Mare and I.

Happy Holidays from the Mitchells

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. karin #

    Im happy to know you are back and safe . I think if you need more adventure you can come to Cali. I hope you didnt have ham for your Christmas meal.
    Thanks for the many adventures in your travels You are brave and you must have the stomach of steel.

    Love you .

    December 26, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Thanks. It is good to be back in the USA… I guess. Sometimes I think I could just go and go and go. But it is great to see Ron’s folks and it was a very fun surprise. And they had ham waiting for me! LOL.

      December 27, 2009
  2. Ann #

    Welcome home!

    December 27, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Thanks Ann. And thanks for following us and contributing your insightful comments and questions to the blog. They added a whole new dimension for us. Happy holidays!

      December 27, 2009
  3. Christi #

    It was all so much fun, I didn’t want it to end! But then again, I am glad you are back in the US. Happy holidays!

    December 27, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      I have mixed feelings as well. But it was a great ride and this was a very special way for it to end. Thanks for sharing it all w/us. Happy holidays!

      December 28, 2009
  4. Mary Anne Legarski #

    I am glad that my friends are “home” and safe. Your adventures have enriched me and I am sure I speak for others who have shared your words. Merry Christmas!

    December 28, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Merry Christmas Mary Anne. Thanks for traveling along and for your kind words. I know these past 6/7 months have been quite the adventure for you too! Can’t wait to share.

      December 29, 2009
  5. Welcome back to the good, sorta safe, U S of A!!!
    Now I can stop worrying a little.

    Glad it was such an adventure…sorry the funds ran low, and VERY GLAD you skipped Mali!

    We are heading for Pasadena on Wed for the rose Parade.

    Hope to see you two at the Club soon.

    Again…Welcome home!!

    December 28, 2009
    • Hi Skip,

      Funny that you mention the “sorta safe” U S of A…I’ll tell you a story of once being chased by about twenty-five “Crips” gang members right outside of Pasadena, in Altadena. Never ran so fast in my life. I was so sore the next few days I couldn’t walk. Even reported off of work for a day! Don’t stray too far from the Rose bowl! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing you at the health club.

      Peace and Love,


      December 28, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      I am still disturbed about skipping Mali. I think I might have been safer there than on a flight to Detroit…. Freaky! Hope to see you at the gym inbetween your upcoming travels. If not, ENJOY!!

      December 29, 2009
  6. Deb #

    Wow! Great times I see was had by all. Especially enjoyed the monkey on your head, Marilynn! LOL And it looks like they saved you a piece of ham (as you are coming to dinner!)

    I’m sure you have more pictures… you should post on Shutterfly so we can see all of them! Awesome travel log.
    Happy New Year!

    December 29, 2009
    • Marilynn #

      Ha ha ha – Yes, they “saved a piece of ham!” There is a flash from the past I had almost forgotten. So nice to hear from you. Thanks so much for following along. We do have more photos that I will post once we get home-I will keep you in the loop. I hope you and Bob and Zane had a wonderful holiday and that you all have a wonderful 2010! Who knows, maybe one day we will actually see each other…………. gasp!

      December 30, 2009
  7. Matt W. #

    not quite as exciting.. but the final pushpin nonetheless…

    December 31, 2009
  8. Mark Stodola #

    I’m soooooo glad you are home!

    December 31, 2009
    • Hi Mark,

      I hope that Sue is doing okay. We can get together soon…hope my dog, Jack, recognizes me.


      January 1, 2010
  9. Kathie Boyuk #

    Welcome Home and Happy New Year. I can just imagine how happy your mom and dad were to see you both. Are you still there or have you hit the road back to warm weather? We are going to be with Mary in PV in about a month. We are going to celebrate our retirement with Mary, Tom and Peg along with my sister and her boyfriend. what fun it would be if you two could join us. Much love to you both and I will miss reading your journal. Kath and Pete

    December 31, 2009
    • Hi Kathie,

      Congratulations! Both you and Pete are retiring? I wish you a happy, awesome adjustment! We fly to Phoenix tomorrow (2nd) and cannot wait for some reasonable weather. We do not have any winter clothes. Didn’t think that we would need any. We enjoy the visit, but it’s time to go.
      We’d love to join you guys. Let us know the dates, and if that doesn’t work, you have to come see our place. You are welcome to stay with us as well. I’m very happy for you guys.



      January 1, 2010
  10. Carolyn Ferroni #

    Ron and Marilynn,
    I will miss reading your adventures but love the ending in Mingo. Merry Christmas and I look forward to when you write more. What an adventure. Maybe Bruce and I can get off the “tour” bus travels when the kids are all grown!

    January 6, 2010
    • Hi Carolyn,

      Thanks for your kind words. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a tour bus!


      January 6, 2010
  11. Julie Klein #

    I’ve enjoyed keeping up with the two of you and your adventure! You have been so fortunate to have experienced more of this wonderful world than many will- and I have been fortunate to have been able to follow my friends along the way. I’m glad you are home safe and sound — and I hope your doggie recognized you! (I’m sure he did)


    January 8, 2010
  12. Samuel Malmisur #

    Hello Ron and Mare from Youngstown, Ohio! I am sure you guys remember David and Garys wild nephew that lived in AZ for about a year. David sent me the link via email and i am so happy he did. Absolutely fantastic story telling and i was not aware that Ron was such a great writer. I am so impressed. I felt like i was with you guys the whole way. You guys are great and cannot wait to return to Phoenix for grad school. Love you guys! Sam

    January 21, 2010
    • Hi Sam,

      Thanks for the compliments! We hope that you are doing well, and staying warm in the cold country. See you soon.

      Take care,

      Ron and Mare

      January 21, 2010

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