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"There is nothing like returning to a place that has remained unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have. " -- Nelson Mandela
|Episode 17: The Naked Truth|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 09:17 PST
cherie writes: March 2000
Cherie talking to Steve, the first naked guy she encountered on the "clothing optional" beach. Notice, that I am looking at his eyes.
Spain is desperately seeking someone to translate menus into English while still making the food sound palatable. Examples: 'Squashed Eggs with Tunny (Tuna?)' or 'Deep Fried Coated Squid Rings.'
I know what it is, I am just not sure if I want to eat it any more. But, we shouldnīt talk since last night Kristi ordered her salad 'sin caballo' or 'without horse' instead of 'sin cebolla' or 'without onion.'
Jean and Miguan have both travelled back to London for that thing...what is it called again, oh yes...a job. So Kristi and I are in Fuerteventura, an unspoiled island with more goats living here than people. Imagine giant ferns, looking like tufts of green muppet hair, peeping out of the rugged cliffs. Imagine running on a pristine beach only to discover the mast of a sunken ship peeking over the waves. Then imagine being slated in room #1308, only to learn the hotel has no elevators. Stairs are the price a tourist pays to visit an undeveloped island paradise.
In Fuerteventura it rains less than one day a year. Its biggest export (next to goat cheese) is the lice on the cactus. (When you squish the lice, manufacturers use the red juice to make lipstick.)The island has no cows, but hundreds of cow crossing signs. It was too expensive to make 'goat crossing' signs, so the gov't saved money by buying cow signs hoping imaginative tourists would understand they meant goats. They also only had enough money to build one church. Consequently they built two entrances, one elaborate for the wealthy Catholics, and a boring one for the poor Protestants. (Sorry Protestants.)
Enter Pepe, the goat farmer we met. He let us milk his goats and drink the milk. It was warm, creamy and believe it or not...good!
Fuerteventura is an island where if you were accused of being a witch, the town-folk would bind you to a steak on the mountain top to scorch in the sun for 5 days without food or water. If you survived, you were burned--certainly you must be a witch. If you were dead, it was a pity...someone must have made an error.
We snatched these tidbits of information from the muddled remarks of Bart the Belgian, our local tour guide. We travelled the island with 55 other tourists (most had been married for longer than I have been alive) on a double-decker bus. Bart was unkept and unravelled, but might have passed as an island authority if he had brushed his hair and washed his feet. He seemed like the type of guy who would ditch a day of work to give Kristi and I a more extensive island tour. Upon our suggestion of this, Bart suddenly came down with Americanitis (which is the sudden need to spend more time with American girls.) And hence, our next adventure began.
Bart, while he spoke 5 languages, and ranked #6 in the world for cycling, lived in his truck. Our second island tour, would be given in Bartīs car. (Did I mention that Bartīs car has no backseat?) This meant that I was crouched on a doubled-over inflatable raft stuffed in the back with the rest of our luggage (including Kristiīs twelve pairs of shoes.) We began by trekking through a forest of palm trees where we climbed our way up massive river streaked boulders to an altar for the virgin of the island. (Not sure how anyone could remain a virgin on this island?) There we entered a tiny chapel where we wrote a wish in her book...weīll let you know when it comes true.
Next we drove down to a quaint fishing village where we ate fish (not much else to do.) As I jiggled in the backseat to our next destination, I became more and more grateful for my skin. It held my bouncing insides together like a thickened film holds together day-old Jello.
The final stop was a gentle cove curved like the small of a womanīs back. There is a photo of the three of us here (Bart, Kristi, & I) and only a dentist could truly appreciate the width of our smiles. Our photographer, chosen at random by Kristi, was buck naked. Steve (naked guy) proceeded to talk to me at length, and I am sorry to admit that I donīt remember a damn thing he said. Kristi and Bart abandoned me as I tried helplessly to make conversation. I silently commanded myself 'look at his eyes...look at his eyes'. This was my first conversation with a naked stranger. Of course, Kristi was 15 feet away photographing my clothed awkwardness juxtaposed against Steveīs naked ease. I never got to say what I really wanted to: 'Steve, you are naked!'
As we left the balminess of the island, one quote lingers in my mind. It was stick-carved in the wet sand of a sand-castle, the only remark I have seen written in English. It said: 'Life is made up of atoms and space, everything else is opinion.'
Iīll end this episode with my favorite quote from Bart. After he wiped the last few drops of scotch from his lips he said: 'That tasted like angels pissing on my tongue.' I guess that is the Belgian way of saying it tasted 'Jolly Good.'
I miss everyone. Next stop: Barcelona.
Click on each picture to see it full size.
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