"Has anyone traveled in Europe in September and October?
Pt.-1of a 3pt. series- The Ecuador Report by JourJa~18 JUL 2014"
I arrived with my Good Friends Steve Miller, Bud Grennan, & Jason Thornton at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on 04 OCT 2002 for a 1 week vacation. After few days into it, I felt I wanted to stay behind a bit longer.
After my Buddies went home I was in and around the greater NL & Belgium area for 40 days thanks to Vic van Koningsbruggen before shoving on to the South, all ways by slow train as a backpacker staying in the INT Youth Hostels, hitting I-net cafes a few days a week and conducting my business- traveling tractor sales.
Be sure to check out the WWI & WWII US Military Cemeteries in Maastricht / Margraten, NL with NL Marines on Duty 24/7 watching over 8,000+ RIP (see the hide out Caves complex) & Henri-Chapel, Belgium, another 8,000+ RIP, I did not use any sort of travel agency, but this looks nice & comprehensive: http://www.eto-tours.nl/tour_itinerary%208_day_longversion.html
..after the 7 day vacation was over I chose to stay behind in Holland 40 days and then onto the south by train to and through Belgium, Luxembourg, tip of France and 10 days in Switzerland - Jungfrau Mountains Range ~ Mt. Eiger- film location of "Eiger Sanction" w/ Clint Eastwood, and then by train onto Zurich, through Austria, Croatia, Belgrade Yugoslavia, and 10 days in Thesolanica & Athens, Greece.
I was 39 years old at that time and being born and raised in Atlanta, GA, USA had never really been out of the country before, much to speak of. I was having the time of my life traveling and staying in youth hostels meeting people from all over the world with other cultures views and values, it was just truly an eye opening experience, that changed me forever!
..so 31 DEC 2003, at the halfway point on this adventure after nearly 3 months in Europe down to Athens, I was a bit homesick, debating to return home? ..but I decided to fly "Egypt Air" from Athens to Cairo and check on that ancient big block laying project New Years Eve night:)
...spent 10 days in Cairo, and by bus onto, Rafia refugee camp border, spent the night in a huge metal building with about a 1,000. arabs, the guards segregated me in the far end of the building with unclaimed luggage. The next morning the Israelis sent a bus over for about 8 of us for Interrogation time to possibly be admitted into Israel, I was told normally I would have 90 days on a US Passport, but under the sabre rattling in the area at that time, and due to my traveling alone entering by land / bus. I was permitted in after 4-5 hours searching me and my effects, explaining my travels, and given only 7 days due to the climate of events developing with the mid-east war at that time,
.. then via bus ride to Ashkelon, Israel, changed buses on into Jerusalem, and for 8 days inside the old city walls of Jerusalem, Jaffa Gate, Tower of David, Whaling Wall (I was treated very nicely & humanely my week in Israel) then bus to the south to the tropical Gambling town of Eilat to hi speed ferry boat over to tropical seaport town of Aqaba Jordan, 15 days, Petra, Ammon, Bedoiun Desert Camp out a few days and back to the south to Aquaba.
..and then shoved off by hi speed ferry boat back into Middle Egypt (central) Sharma Shiek and onto Nubia1 day Luxor, Valley of the Kings, 1 day Karnak 1 day and train ride to Lower Egypt (South) to:..
Aswan for about 21 days [nearing the ground troop invasion start date of March 19th in nearby Iraq, I was having difficulty getting food, Western Unions transfers, the Military police & same General were called out onto me on 4-5 occasions while my 3 week stay in Aswan.]
...on March 7th, 2003 I got into a fight with a truck driver, because he tried to run me over in the street, so I threw a full un-opened 16 oz.Coca-Cola glass returnable bottle thru his
windshield as he nearly grazed me passing by, [it busted out just as pretty as you please] a street brawl ensued, drew quite a crowd of locals, I was somewhat injured but managed to stand my ground, I was arrested & taken into custody by the Egyptian Military Police later on that evening, held overnight in an ancient Fort in the center of town of Aswan.
I was ruffed up a pretty good bit & interrogated all night,; "Mr. Abercrombie have you had sexual relations with any of our women? "No Sir!" - "that was a very intelligent answer Mr. Abercrombie."
..the next morning I was handcuffed to an Egyptian Soldier and accompanied by a 12 man squad of Egyptian Soldiers for a 12 hour train ride back to Cairo, and thrown into a horrible turn of 3 or 4 centuries ago dungeon, [downtown cairo] holding facility, in a 1 room cell about 50 ft. x 20 ft. with over 80 of N. Africa's finest rapists, murderers, refugees, illegals w/ visa problems, fleeing Sudan, Iraq, etc.. ..they would slop us like hawgs once or twice a day,
...I was incarcerated in Cairo for 7 days till the US Embassy in Cairo - [Bill Roberts] - state dept - [arranged for my release & to return to the US on 14 MAR 2003 via Egypt Air on a Boeing 777 Cairo to JFK NY, NY USA. The arrangement stipulated there was no charges to be filed against me, I was not technically being deported,...they- the Egyptian authorities had me sign a document agreeing to their wishes- just for me Mr. Abercrombie to leave Egypt, and to never return. [where do I sign Sir?]
[when I left the US in OCT 2002 for this trip I was my normal [at that time] 6' tall 225 #'s when I returned MAR 2003, I was 165#'s see attached foto, taken on 15 MAR 2003 JFK to ATL [It beats the Jenny Craig Rapid / Rabid Weight Loss Program to Death:)
I like "Touring the World and Making Friends" even if it was just a bit of Europe and a little bit N. Africa & Mid East. I owe a Great Deal of Gratitude to Steve, Bud & Vic...for putting up with my dumb newbie traveler - cultural ignorance questions & mistakes, but after about mid NOV 2002 to Mid MAR 2003 for 5 months I was tee totally on my own.
I was not able to join the Military after High School, and I did not get to "Tour the World / Making Friends" via Military Service. It would have been great, and I have heard & relished all of the stories IE: "On leave for the weekend in a foreign land w/ my unit or my squad, they having my back & me having theirs." But all of my life Vet's have been there for me, and they were gracious enough to share with me. Right out of High School as an apprentice Most of my Union Sheet Metal Worker Foremen & Maestros were VN Vets.
Most of my Maestros in Grading, Hauling & Wrecking were VN Vets, Korean & WWII Vets 1 Step Grand Daddy & 1 Biological Grand Daddy...they were no harder on me than what they felt I could handle, they led by example.
When I first came to Quito, I met a German- Hans / French Foreign Legioneer about my age.
He had been here several years and was one of the best private jungle guides specializing in the Amazon, he was quite supportive & helpful to me as a newbie here in Ecuador. He told me Adios and Good Luck with EC a few years ago and went back to Germany, he had, had enough of lil ole EC in general. None of my old Mariscal friends have seen or heard from him since...?
I have seen a good many US Military Vets come and go from EC, and not all necessarily return to the comforts of the US, but go try it in MX or Central America, or back in SE Asia. I've seen one USAF VET pass away recently as 2 weeks ago, a young 41 yrs old, that I was able to spend a good bit of time with on 3 different adventures: Jason Dean Miller: http://thesouthern.com/news/local/obituaries/article_214e5f70-4b44-56d5-abee-669f8e4381a6.html
Jason was Fine Fellow, keep on Smiling that Smile Brother: http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/jsunmiller/1/1320847253/tpod.html
Whenever I post Happy B-Day on FB to folks: "Feliz Cumpleaños Y Maannny Mooorree~" (because that's the trick to it) I put that tune "& Manny Moorree" on it, trying to hang around a little while, and see how this thing plays out?
In trying times Wherever I go, whatever i do, I just think back to the illustrious 1990's popularity of (WWJD) = "what would jesus do", (bet that guy made a million off of those bracelets:)..
..I modified on it just a bit to (WWJKA) yep dear old Grand Dad: John Kitchens Abercrombie 04 NOV 1920 to 27 APR 2004 RIP- WWII US VET 4 yrs ARMY & Reupped 4yrs NAVY, he was a Chef & Booky in both outfits. (never made nor wanted any rank) He said: "Jack I made more GD money in the Military than I made in my entire MF'ing life." https://www.accessnorthga.com/access/obituaries.php?m=detail&id=25566
..after he got out of the Service, as most WWII Vets, he did just like he wanted, and he kept right on making book in the Greater Metro Atlanta Area, he all ways kept some obvious legitimate business, be it a Bar or a Grading, Hauling & Wrecking Business. He paid his dues to the local authorities & poli-tick-shuns and was permitted to carry right on. But the real deal was "Gentlemen Place Your Bets!"
When we bid a 2-3-4-5 story building to be mechanically knocked down with excavators & front end loaders in ATL (w/o explosives) & hauled off, it was a form of gambling in itself to come in low bidder and to make out. He loved it, and I did too.
It obviously was not all fun & games in WWII. Big John would all ways say:
"National Geographic is my Bible & Jacques-Yves Cousteau is my very own Jesus Christ.
Just watch & study the chimpanzees & apes, they get along & are more highly evolved than we are.
There is no God!! We are all just a bunch of GD animals, or we would not be so MF'ing mean to each other!"
Big John had a knack for somehow structuring most every sentence with GD or MF'er etc etc..it was really amazing how he could let it roll off and work it into his message.
I have seen a lot of good folks young & old alike dropping like flys lately. If there is somewhere you want to go, something you want to do, or somebody you want to make peace with or tell them that you Love Them..? don't dilly dally nor delay! None of us are promised tomorrow!
Thankfully after my 6 months abroad of 3 months in Europe & 3 months N. Africa & Mid East I was able to spend some time with dear old Grand Dad before he passed.
Froehmers & Lonely Planet do some really good guide books on Europe for some good current intel.
For anyone that may have a hankering to knock around in N. Africa & the Middle East, read up on Sun Tzu (Master Sun) "Art of War" ...it will come in handy.
For anyone who may want to come visit Ecuador get in touch with Me by commenting below.
I certainly don't claim to know it all, but I know the basics on getting around to all the expat hotspots, and am more knowledgeable of the off the beaten track areas of EC that are not promoted or written about: "Journeyman Jack In ECUADOR" https://www.facebook.com/JourneymanJackinEcuador