Monday, June 30, 2014

Relaxing by the Mediterranean Sea

After nearly dying from thirst, I arrived in a small fishing village on the coast of Ancient Lycia.  After traveling for nearly two weeks, I finally felt like I found my peace.

I loved it here so much, I've stayed already for five nights.  Did I tell you, I really feel at peace?  So much so, I don't want to leave.

The place has a few tourists, but the Brits seem to know about it.  I think it's because it's really hard to get into this place, after all I trekked here from civilization.  I hope it doesn't get touristy because they would just build big hotels here, and the place would lose it's charm and loveliness.  (I took the picture on the left and all the pictures below.)

My day is rather uninteresting to the outside observer.  I start with breakfast.  Then, I watch the Game of Thrones or other shows I haven't kept up with on my netbook.  I do reading on my kindle.  Then it gets really hot in the afternoon, so I blast up the air conditioner in my room and nap.  When I wake up, I see the Turkish grandmother (picture below), who makes me an ancient pizza.  She kneads her own dough, then fries it on a big large skillet.  Then she adds feta, vegetables, and cut up tomatoes and cucumbers to it.  Rolls it up and gives me either a yogurt drink, which could be a tad salty, or some Turkish tea, which is pleasant and wonderful.  I really like her, and I smile at her and say Hello in Turkish every time I get the chance.  I'll bet the first pizzas were made this way. 

Then, when it cools down, I either go on a hike amongst ancient ruins or cool well springs; or, I take a dip in the ocean.  I saw a sea turtle yesterday, while I swam to a nearby sand key.  I live a hard life, don't I?

From time to time, I talk to the many ally cats.  Some like me; some don't.  I wish I could bring them all home with me, but I think mother won't appreciate it.  She usually ends up taking care of my pets, while I gallivant the world.  I hope the chickens and my African fish back home are ok.

Anyways, here's some pictures to show you the small fishing village, the town, the cat (which didn't like it's selfie taken), and the last picture of my German friend.  We had breakfast together, before I left, in Bavaria.

 Hotel I'm staying at.
My breakfast 

The lady who makes my lunch

Selfie with the Turkish Cat.  (Cat's camera shy).

My Bavarian Friend and I having breakfast together in Germany.  (This isn't in Turkey).  Can't believe we've known each other for six years now.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Almost Dying (Again) In Turkey

I was trekking on the Lycian Way, a 500 km (313 m) hike along the Southwestern Turkish coast.  I think I almost died on it.  It's not really conclusive I would have died, but the risk certainly went up.  The element of water has tried to kill me once.  Nearly Drowning at Sea.  Now the element of fire took its shot.

The Turkish path is generally terrible.  I've done treks in Germany and all over New Zealand.  The Turkish government hasn't 't maintained it so well.  When I hiked the path it was 104 F (40 C).  I got lost on the the terrible path because the bush outgrew it, you lose it, and in weather like that, you dehydrate quickly.

Even though I brought half a gallon of water with me, that, I drank it really quick, and even remember saving some, so I could keep hope alive that I had water.  But at some point, sweating profusely, I finished the water and nothing was left in the plastic bottle.

There was one point that it all seemed so hopeless.  The sea was below me.  There was no way to go forward.  The top of the cliff seemed impossible to get to.  No one was hiking on the path, and I knew no one would.  It's God awful I tell you.  Not the path.  But the fact that the trail wasn't maintained. 

I asked God to take my life because I was so miserable and desperate.  As I said, there seemed to be no hope.  I had run out of water.  No one would find me.  It was 104 F.  I was going to die, or at least I thought I would.  Perhaps someone would walk the trail randomly and find me.  But that was really not going to happen, at least for another few days.

It was like walking through a desert without any water.  You imagine that water will miraculously appear.  You hope if you crack a rock water will come from it.  You believe that it will rain.  You even consider drinking your own urine, but you have no urine because you have no water in you.

On your mind, all the time, is water.  You can feel the cotton mouth and the fact you can't sweat anymore.  And you know, you need water and the salt water in the sea is no good.  Every second you think about water.

You actually stop sweating.  I sweated so much, which I usually don't do, that my backpack was covered in salt crystals.  It was that hot.  Then a head ache starts pulsing through my head.

I had to make a choice.  Do something.  Do nothing and potentially die.  If I did nothing and lived, it'd be at the mercy of some hiker finding me in the middle of nowhere.  

Remember; I'm off the track.  So, it's most likely I'd die.  Even if someone hiked the trek, which no one was doing, how were they going to find me off the track?  Who's going to come looking for me?  People back home know I don't come back until mid July.

I could just see the headlines: Dumb American Tourist Dies On the Lycian Way Because He Didn't Have Enough Water.  I'm sure my "friends," like the Director of Parks and Recs, in Baldwin Park would be dancing with joy.  I just couldn't let any of this happen.

I decided to make my way to the top of the cliff.  So, I scaled the cliff, all the way to the top.  The plants hate you on this trail.  They all have thorns and spikes; so besides being on the verge of dying, I was being cut up the whole time.  My arms and legs felt like it was on fire from all the itching and cuts.

There was a miraculous tree on the top, though.  It looked different from all the other ones.  When I got to it, I hugged it because I knew it was leading me on the right path.  At the top of the ridge, I could walk on the boulders and stones now, away from the terrible plants - that blocked my way forward. 

From there, I was walked West, where I knew a village existed.  It was easier to walk because there were no thorny bushes blocking my path.  But from the top, I found the trail.  I followed it religiously. 

But the Turkish trail was so bad, I got lost again.  They seem to have started paths that go no where.  But this time, I got smarter.  I backtracked and I went on the other fork in the road.

After walking two more hours in the blazing sun, only thinking about water, but knowing I'd live (because I found the trail), I made my way back on the right track.  I eventually made it to a village of 200 people.  I owe the village my life.

There, a high school Turkish girl, brought me water, because I said, "Water.  Please."  She could see in my face I looked like I've been through Hell.  I felt like Hell.

She brought me a half gallon.  When you get that water, you don't care about anything else.  You'd give up your car, your money, whatever; to just have water.  That's how desperate you need it, and you know nothing else matters.

I drank it, in what seemed to be just a few gulps.  I drank it so fast I coughed and wheezed.  It went down the wrong hole.  Because I drank it so fast, I went dizzy.  My brain couldn't process that it was dehydrated and rehydrated in one instance.  (Apparently, on average it takes the brain anywhere 10-20 minutes to really understand the true state of your body.)

I was embarrassed to be in front of their house.  So, I walked a few yards, found some shade on the village road.  I sat down in the shade, but I probably would've collapsed if I stood up longer.  I napped for 30 minutes.  I could hear the village dogs barking.  I could hear the chickens clucking.  I thought of my home in Los Angeles and our three chickens.

As, I walked down the road, a Turkish village family invited me to their porch.  They gave me more water and fed me four cups of tea with sugar.  It was still scorching hot, and it was 4pm in the afternoon.

The family told me I could walk three hours to the next village.  I pondered whether I should walk or hitchhike.  On my way to the next point, some old Turkish man ran me out of his village, yelling at me.  He didn't even want me hitchhiking there. 

I managed to hitchhike my way to the biggest village, which is absolutely gorgeous and stunning.  It's a small fishing village off the coast of the Mediterranean.  It's really is gorgeous.  I love it.  I'm happy to be back with people.

I'm happy to be alive.

The next day, I thought through why this awful event happened to me.  Then I realized, I was unprepared.  All of my long distance treks have been in New Zealand and Germany, where the temperature are cooler.  This is the first time I've done a trek in such a scorching climate.  I've never experienced how fast your body loses water.  It's subliminal, really.  Also, I started the trek much too late in the day, 11am.  Also, I learned a valuable lesson on these Turkish paths.  If you end up nowhere - stop going forward.  Go back, and look for the other part of the road.  I should've known better; a German tourist told me he got lost once on the track too.  It's hard some times because the brush has overgrown and covered up the path, but it's there somewhere.  Also, I read a blog of an American lawyer who also ran out of water on this track.  It happens easily here.

I met some South African trekkers, and they told me they were going to walk the part I did but decided not too because it was too hot.  Obviously, they were a lot smarter than me.

Anyways, I've decided to stay in this fishing village for a few days.  It was 106 F today.  During that time, I blasted up the air conditioner in my room and just read.  What else could I do?  Go in the wilderness for another walk?

I've decided I will hike to the next village, however.  I can't live my life in fear.  I know better this time.  Anyways, I should get the dunce award for being unprepared or the scout award for making it.  I think the latter.  Unless you've been alone, in the wilderness, without any water, in the blazing sun, and you think you're going to die, I can tell you, it's hard to control the panic and fear and think rationally.  But I did it.  I didn't even freak out during the whole ordeal, though I can say, it was an unpleasant experience to say the least.  I'm back and alive and well and writing to you. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lunch With A Bavarian Ghost

In Munich, a Bavarian Ghost named Wagner, asked me to meet it at the town center.  Somebody else delivered the message by email, and said to meet Phantom Wagner, at noon in front of the busy City Hall.

Now, I'm not sure why I wanted to have lunch with a Bavarian ghost - and I think it was a bad ghost indeed.  But I was filled with great curiosity.

Noon came and went.  I was nervous because the ghost didn't show up.  But up, at the top of the clock tower, it was there.  I saw the phantom, and I was filled with fear.  I reached for my new holy rosary, which I tie to one of my belt loops.  But it wasn't there.  (Another tip, some times you should bring holy items random people give you on your journey if you're to face spirits.)

The geist came down and said, "Hello, Paul.  Let's eat at a beirgarden."

I walked with it to a biergarden in the center of the city.

The phantom ordered for me.  It said in German - "White sausage, pretzel, mustard, and a Bavarian pilsner for the American.  For me, just sparkling water."  (White sausage is a traditional Bavarian breakfast and you do eat it with mustard and freshly baked pretzels.)

Take, my advice here.  If a ghost, ever offers you food, don't eat it.  I don't know why I agreed to meet this phantom, but looking back on it, I think it wasn't the wisest idea.

But like Eve, who doomed the human race, I was curious - like really curious.  In German curiosity is neugierigNeu means new.  Gierig means greed.  New greed.  Yes, I had a greed, a hungry one, to know about the new.

"Aren't you going to eat?"  I asked.

"I don't eat."

Usually, humans feed the dead, in a ceremony called a libation.  You pour alcohol on the ground.  The Asians call the spirits to eat food.  In this case, it was a reverse libation.  The demon was feeding me.  In any event, the purpose is always the same: to maintain a connection.

The specter wanted to know about my life in Los Angeles, but it said I only had an hour to entertain it.  So, I told the shade about my law firm, a little bit about the corruption I uncovered, and my family.  It listened and listened.

Then the clock tower struck and the hour was up.  The Bavarian shadow said, "I have to leave now.  Will you walk me to my clock tower?"

So, I did.  In front of the clock tower, it said, "When you return to Bavaria, let us do this again?"

I thought, I don't think I'm coming back.  But I couldn't tell it this.

"And one more thing," it said.  The phantom touched my shoulder with its index finger.  I felt heat and energy leave my body, and I felt weaker.  What a thief.  It stole my energy.

There was a smile on the ghost's face.  It was fed.

Then I heard it say: "Ciao!"

In it's place, there were only tourists milling around.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting the Holy Rosary

A woman of faith gave me a holy artifact.  I wasn't going to share this story, but my friends liked it so much, here it is.

This story happen on my third day of Germany.  To give you some context, this is when and where the story happened: Goettingen

* * *

I felt that something supernatural happened in Goettingen, where I met Volker.  (Why is it that magical items and supernatural events seem to happen to me on my long travels?) On our last night there, Volker, his friend, and I ate at a Greek restaurant, ran by Greeks - who were German nationals.  I figured they were Orthodox, which is a different strand of Catholicism.

I asked the waiter if he had a Bible.  I needed to know how to say a Greek phrase from the New Testament, which is the latter part of the Bible.  He took me to a Catholic shrine, which had rosaries, but no Bible.

Instead, I took out a piece of paper and wrote, "Plousiouv en Pistei."

I asked him, "How do you say this in Greek?"

The Greek mother came out and looked at the piece of paper.

The mother told me it's pronounced, "Blue-she-o in piss-tai."

She then asked me what this was about.

I explained - that it was the name of my non-profit, and I don't know how to pronounce it.

She asked, what kind of company this was?

When I explained I provided legal service for the poor, she exclaimed, "Oh!  It makes sense!  Oh!  What a beautiful thing."

She gave me a big hug.  She gave Volker a big hug.  She gave Volker's friend a big hug.

She went on to explain how powerful the words "Plousiouv en Pistei" are in the Greek. 

She said it has two meanings.  Not only does it mean that you're wealthy in faith.  It also means that you have genuine faith or rich faith.

She explained how she tries to be wealthy in faith everyday. 

Then she pulled out rare monastic beads made of a Greek cedar.  She gave me the holy artifact.  It smelled like fresh wood.  She said, "May God protect and bless you on your journey with this."

She gave us all a hug again.  The colder Germans in my party felt so blessed too by this hug, and they knew that there was something understood between this Greek owner and my firm being formed.

Not that I'm Catholic or superstitious, but now I believed at this point, I had three magical items.  I had a Swiss watch that froze evil spells in time.  My mother and roommate gave it to me for one of my birthdays.  I had my grandfather's dog tags from World War II.  It's supposed to protect me from physical harm.  Now, I had the holy rosary.  The European demons flee when they're near it.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

An Ancient Roman City By The Sea

The sweet sea breeze blows through the Roman streets of Antalya, the ancient capital of the Byzantine Empire, which was presented as a gift to the benevolent Roman Emperor Hadrian, the same one who built the wall in Great Britannia. 

I made it to Turkey, but not without some difficulty.  It was an 11 hour journey.

When I landed in Antalya, which is situated in Turkey, I felt sad as the bus took me into the town center.  The outskirts of Antalya is ugly and without character and life.  It reminded me of the poorer areas of Lebanon; I was there in the spring of 2012.

Furthermore, part of my heart was still in Bavaria.  I don't know why I love Bavaria so much, but I've been there six times now; so I must believe this land and I have a special connection.

But when I walked through the streets of Antalya's old town, I was amazed.  It's an ancient city, a relic of the first century BC.  Although renovated, the Roman City looks like it would have during the time that Jesus Christ walked the earth.  I've never seen a Roman City so intact and so clean.  Best of all, you could smell the sweet sea breeze everywhere.  It's a Roman City on the Mediterranean cost, like the picture above shows. You can also hear the Middle Eastern music playing in the streets.  You see the people dancing.  You can smell the meats roasting.

In one passage of the ancient scriptures, Jesus says, "You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden."  Jesus must have been referring to a city like Antalya because even upon descent, the city looks like a gem mounted on top of a cliff.

Furthermore, Antalya has pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim roots.  It impresses me that Paul of Tarsus, also known as Apostle Paul, sailed through this City.  As Acts 14 records, ""From Perga, Paul and Barnabas went down to Attalia and sailed from there to Antioch after preaching in Pisidia and Pamphylia" (bold added for emphasis.)

Like my entire journey, I'm not sure where I'm going.  I also don't know what's going to happen.  My airplane was stalled for two and a half hours because there was mechanical difficulty.  For a moment, the captain didn't think we'd take off.  You could also sense the tension building amongst the German fliers.

On the airplane, I asked the German flight attendant, "What's there to do in Turkey?"

She said, "Don't you know?  You can't just go to place and have no plans."

Well, I guess she never met me.  I'll figure out what I'm going to do either tonight or in the morning.  For now, I'm just going to eat good food, meet people, and think through what to do with the rest of my journey.  In my next few posts, I'll also share some secret stories and what I've been learning.

I haven't had my wonderful Turkish coffee yet.  But already, I've drank five cups of Turkish tea.  It's wonderfully balanced, sweet, and refreshing.  Time for a Turkish coffee, though.

As the Turks say, “Coffee should be black as Hell, strong as death, and sweet as love."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Partying in Bavaria and the Bavarian Drug Problem

After leaving Tobi, I told my host in Munich, "I need to detox.  That was a wild time with Tobi."

He started laughing.  I think I learned more partying words in the Bavarian dialect than I ever learned before.

Tobi loves to party.  He's really a party animal.  And so, when I asked if I could see his parents, whom I'm fond of very much, he said, "No, Paul.  We party!  We party a lot!"

Keep in mind that this was a Wednesday night, not a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night.  A Wednesday night.

Tobi seems to know everyone in his small city.  In his twenties, he's already made his way up as the general manager of a famous restaurant in the city.  Because there's not much happening in the country city of the Allgaue, (pronounded All-goy), people like this bar and restaurant scene.  Tobi loves meeting new people.  So, with the high traffic of people, Tobi's learned to meet almost every young person in this city.

We had lunch that Wednesday.  Then, he ordered me a bier.  Then I went to visit Tobi at his restaurant in the evening.  He kept offering me drinks, which I refused.

Instead of seeing his parents, we went to a birthday party, of someone he didn't know.  But he knew one of the guests.  See, what I mean, that he knows everyone?

At the birthday party, in a little apartment, the people were so friendly.  They were so much more confident than I usually see Germans.

Furthermore, there were many Turkish, Eastern Europeans, and Russians at the apartment.  Even there, they were so drunk.  

Tobi took me to a club, where we partied until 3am.  It was so packed and full of people that every inch of you body was touched by another warm body.  They were all so young and alive and wanted to be where everything was happening.

There was lights and fog and blasting music and dancing.  The energy was definitely revving high.

I met a nice German girl.  She was very pretty with blonde hair and blue eyes.  She was very flirty with me.  I suppose I could've asked for her number, but I decided that I wasn't ready to start something that wasn't going anywhere.  Also, I wasn't into this European fling flavor of the week that they're all so into.

At one point, the Russian guy - whose birthday it was - grabbed me and asked if I spoke Russian.  I said I could speak some.  And we chatted in Russian.  He was so impressed, he gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, "Later, I will take you to a brothel.  You can have any lady you like - Chinese, Turkish, German.  It's only 50 Euros."

I just laughed.  Then, Tobi took me to the patio - where I met the German girl again.

When we went home, Tobi said that the guys at the birthday party were Turkish gangsters, who smuggle in drugs, weapons, and prostitutes.  They were all apparently high on cocaine.  And, one of the Eastern Europeans hijacks cars in Bavaria and then has them shipped to Ukraine.

Bless Tobi's heart.  The guy loves to party.  So, what does he do for his guest?  Take him to the best parties that he knows of.

In any event, why am I mentioning all this?  Leave it to me to discover the social plagues on my holidays.

This what's happening in Bavaria, and maybe all of Germany.  The Eastern Europeans are poor.  They're like the Latins of our North America.  They come into Bavaria, but they can't get a good job without an education or highly skilled training, both of which are prized in Germany.  But they want a lot of money.  They want a Mercedes or a BMW.

So instead of being happy with the minimum wage that Germany offers them, they've resorted to selling illegal goods: drugs, prostitutes, and weapons.  All three are in high demand in Germany.  So, it's kind of ironic that the same people who won't give the "inferiors" opportunities, are the same people that the "inferiors" take advantage of in more devious ways.

I predict that in five years from now, if it keeps going on this way, that the Bavarian youth will be having a social epidemic.  I also could sense that the German young adults feel alone and are in a bad need of community.  Perhaps, this is the same problem American young adults are facing.

When I came back to Munich, I told Nils, "I need to be cleansed from my time in the Allgaue."

So - we went for a 8 miles run through Munich City.  On our return back, we stopped by the creek, where the lazy people were enjoying the sunshine at 8 pm.  I took off my shirt and jumped into the water.  I told Nils, "Ok, I've been baptized in German water now."

He laughed and said, "Cool."

A pug dog ran up to me.  And licked me.  I said, "I think I feel refreshed now."

I fly to a new country tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bavaria Again

My little brother Tobi and me
I made it into Bavaria again.  Bavaria is the southern and rich German state.  It's famous for the blue and white checkered flag.

And if you haven't seen the flag on the left, you'll certainly recognize that the flag is part of a famous emblem we all know as BMW.

There are several changes and observations I made about Germany.  One, the German State has done away with the law that upheld a monopoly for long distance transportation, which was owned by the German train companies.  No more, though.  Long distance bus rides can be done by buses as well now, and that's good for the consumer like me.  So, when I saw Volker in Goettingen, the train ride would've cost close to $80.  But because of the long distance bus, I only paid $13.  This change just happened in the last year.

Because trains are so expensive, I used to get around Germany by car ride sharing.  In Western Europe, it costs $8.00 a gallon for gas.  Can you believe it?  So, there was a ride sharing company where people who went on long distance rides would post that they needed passengers and everyone would pay a small gas fee to the driver.

I used car ride sharing twice: first, from Goettingen to Munich and then from Munich to the Allgaue, the deep heart of Bavaria.

The ride down to Munich was interesting.  I shared a ride with a medical student from Northern Saxony and a Bavarian mechanic.  They were both in their twenties.  They asked me a lot of questions about Los Angeles.

After, I was dropped off at a Starbucks in the city center.  I waited for Nils.  Remember; Nils is the guy who who took me running up the castle two years ago in the German winter.  He's a very kind person, and he was happy to see me.

I changed into my lederhosen, which is the traditional Bavarian outfit, and all of us went to Biergarten to watch the Soccer Championships.  Over the radio, Angela Merkel, the German prime minister (who in America would be president), wished Germany luck.  The game was between Germany and Portugal.  It was sunny outside.  Many people had their faces painted with the German flag.  Others wore lederhosen like me.  The crowds roared and cheered every time Germany made a goal.  In the end, Germany won four to zero.

I think Bavaria is in a great economic position.  All the young are working.  It's not like America or any other country.  The unemployment is low.  The Germans appear to be a happy people, as they all know that their economy is doing well.

Back at Nils' house, Nils asked me to stay longer.  Volker, in Goettingen, also asked me to stay longer.  Tobi, in the Allgaue also asked me to stay longer.  To each of their requests, I said, "Sure.  Why not?  I don't have anywhere I really need to be."  I feel like a wealthy person because my German friends value our relationship.

Yesterday afternoon, I took another ride share into the Allgaue.  I was so happy to see Tobi, who's like a younger brother to me.  Although he had to work, his friend Lukas picked me up and took me to another biergarten.  We drank bier and ate white sausages, a Bavarian dish, with pretzels.  You can't get more Bavarian than that.

I visited Tobi at his bar.  He fed me more.  Not that I needed more.  I went back to his apartment and his cousin Florian came and visited me and we chatted for several hours.

I know them all, since I've known them now for five years.  The three of them, Tobi, Florian, and Lukas all came and visited me in the winter.  Now, I see them in the summer.

I'm going to see Tobi's family tonight.  I'm excited to see them.  His father's like my Bavarian father.  He's always treated me well, and even took me with their family, on a family holiday in the Swiss Alps, once.

The most common comment I'm getting from friend is: "Don't you work?"

Now, if anyone has ever observed me working - people say I work like a machine.  People just find it unbelievable that I took one month off.  When I worked in New Zealand, we were all given five weeks a year off.  I took three more weeks unpaid a year - totaling having 8 weeks of holiday a year.

Probably in law school, I was also the only student I knew of (maybe there were others) who made a concerted effort to get away every year.  My first year I went to the Philippines and Singapore.  My second year I went to Belize.  My third year I went to France, Germany and Lebanon.  It was fantastic year of travel.  After sitting the bar, I went to Russia, Germany, and Spain.  After I became a licensed lawyer, I went to Cabo San Lucas.  This winter, I took my brother to Cabo and La Paz.

Am I bragging about all my travels?  I hope not.  The point is that something is completely wrong with the way Americans work.  It shouldn't be a shock that people get away for a rest and a break, even if it is a month.  I'll write more about this later, as I think it'd be a great oped topic.

For now, I'm back in the heart of Bavaria with Bavarians.  Outside, it's a beautiful, sunny day.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lower Saxony

I'm staying longer in Germany than I thought.  Originally, I was planning only on staying three or four days.  I've already stayed with Volker, a long time German friend, for four days.  I'm making my way down south to Munich, the capital of Bavaria.

I can't believe I've been in Germany six times now.  I've been to Goettingen, the ancient German University City three times.  Volker always brags that this university has produced the most Noble laureates.

On the left is the picture of the Goose Maiden.  I've seen her three times already, but this time was special.  The tradition is that you give her a kiss after you earned your doctorate.  The last two times I've seen her, I didn't have a doctorate.  But, now, I have a Juris Doctorate.  So, I climbed the fountain.  Gave her a purple flower.  And kissed her on her right cheek.

It definitely had a special feeling to it.  I felt like I was kissing a real human girl, and the emotions of nervousness and excitement filled me.  But after I kissed her, she was still a statue.  She didn't come to life.  And I suppose I'm not that special to her.  After all, she is the most kissed girl in the world.  I just hope she remembers me, and blesses me.

I didn't do much of the touristy stuff with Volker.  I've either already done it here or was just relaxing with him.  I'm grateful he was able to make so much time for me during his working week.

We had breakfast twice underneath the blossoming cherry trees near the babbling creek.  It really was nice to have breads and cheeses and cured meats.  We caught up and talked about our lives.  I ate some of the yellow cherries hanging from the trees.  And we picked strawberries from his garden and had them with ice cream later.  It was such a perfect summer day.  I love it how the sun sets in Germany at 10:30 pm in the summer.

On one of the breakfasts, Volker's girlfriend of one week joined us.  We chit chatted, as Germans do over breakfast.  It reminded me of having breakfast with my mother.  It's such a special time, but it seems like such a trivial moment in our lives.

Mostly, Volker and his friends and I just played card games or video games.  On one occasion, we biked to the ancient Goettingen Castle.  It was a hard climb since I didn't know how to use the mountain bike so well, and I didn't know which gears to switch to.  The castle is at the highest hill of the city.  There, we sat on top of the rock wall, like the boys of summer playing some adventurous game.

Volker bought us two biers at the cafe.  Only in Germany is there beirs waiting for you at a castle on a hill.  We drank the biers and talked about our lives.  It's so hard to believe that I've known Volker for six years.  It seems like only yesterday, we were camping in New Zealand together at a secluded beach.  It seems like yesterday, that I was over celebrating Christmas with him two years ago.

The castle had a different feeling in the summer.  It felt happier and joyous.  When I came to see Volker in the winter, Volker's friend Nicole and Nils and I ran up to the castle.  Then, the winter snowflakes touched our hot skin and melted.  The ground was muddy and wet and icy, and the top of the castle was covered with snow.  The castle seemed much more aggressive, cold, and menacing in the winter.  I think I liked it better then.

Well, it's time to go to Bavaria now.  Volker arranged a ride for me.  Nils, the guy who ran with me in the snow, now lives in Munich, and he's letting me stay with him the night.  Then, I'll head off into the deep forest of Bavaria to see another old friend, Tobias.  I look forward to seeing the family.  It's been two years since I've seen them. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

In Germany Again

I've made it into Germany, safely.  If that comes as a surprise, yes, I left Baldwin Park and Southern California.  Even lawyers, need breaks.

It's been a long flight.  16 hours to be exact.  I had a 2 hour layover in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Julian was gracious enough to come over to my place at 4am in the morning and drop me off at LAX at 6am.

So far, I haven't slept for 22 hours.  The night before, I only slept three hours, as I was packing up and finishing up my errands.

My whole time traveling to Germany, all I could think about were my cases.  That's probably why I need a break.

Originally, I wasn't going to stay that long in Germany.  At most, I was planning on staying only five or six days.  But, it seems like it's going to be longer now.

My friend Volker wanted to see me and show me his new nephew.  We might go up to the Baltic Sea and visit Leipzig.  It's supposed to be a really nice city.  I know Volker and another guy named Tobi from my days when I lived in New Zealand.  So far, we see each other almost every other year, either in Europe or America.

So, when Volker wanted me around, I cancelled part of my ticket.  I was originally going straight to Bavaria, which is in Southern Germany.  I was going to stay in Southern Germany for a few days and then make my way to the Spanish Canary Islands.

It looks like things are changing now, and I don't really know what's happening.  The main destination is still Morocco, in North Africa, though.

This is my sixth time to Germany in five years.  But, I haven't crossed either the Pacific or the Atlantic in one year and nine months.  So, it was about time for one of my long trips.

Did you know I can understand and read German?  My writing and speaking aren't as good.

I'm gone for five weeks.  To Americans, it seems like a long time, but this is pretty standard for me to do in the summer.  Remember, I went to Cabo last year for about a month too.  You can read about my Cabo days here: The Magic Bus In Cabo

I read the most fantastic article yesterday.  It was on Louis Pasteur's experiment on fermentation.  (Pasteur is more famous for patenting pasteurization of milk and the development of the rabies vaccine.)  It's considered one of the greatest experiments done by man in the last five hundred years.  I was really awed by it.

On the airplane ride, I saw a series of great films, which I haven't done in a long time.  I watched 12 Years A Slave, All the President's Men, Ender's Game, and the second episode of True Detectives.  All, were so great to watch; though, I must say, the first film was rather disturbing.  Really disturbing, actually.

Now, I'm waiting in a guest lobby in Frankfurt.  I'll be taking my bus to Goettingen in an hour and a half.

So, to answer the common FAQs, I get.  Here they are.

1) Who are you traveling with?

By myself.

2) Where are you going to next?

I don't know.  That's the truth.  We'll see.  I just have to finish my trip in Madrid, Spain.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

What Baldwin Park Has In Common With China: Censorship

On June 4, 2014, I've been reading a lot of American criticism regarding China's censorship of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.  I've actually walked through Tiananmen Square, in Beijing twice.  That was about twenty five years ago.

For my boxing teenagers, the Tiananmen Square Massacre was an event in Beijing, where students protested against the government.  In response, the government brought out military force, even tanks, and started killing its own people.  These college students were doing nothing more than gathering together and speaking the truth.  Here's a link to a famous photo of the one man who stood against the line of tanks.  Tank Man

Nearly 15 years later, the American media is upset that the Chinese are lying to their people about Tiananmen Square.  It is true that hundreds of millions of Chinese do not know about the 1989 incident and that the government killed those innocent students for speaking the truth. 

But the American media is so hypocritical.  Here, in Baldwin Park, I, Paul Cook have been censored.  In other words, they've done everything to shut me up.  It's gotten so bad that our local online forum called has removed all the posts regarding the truth about our Parks and Recreation Director laundering money.  Parks and Recs Director Launder Money 

Not only that, but my computer can't publish any more threads on the forum under my IP address.  The Director complained to the City Council that seeing all the news about him doing bad stuff stresses him out.  But instead of doing the right things, confessing, or fixing the problems, they just censor the person who is telling the truth.  Yet, one of the Council Members, most likely Raquel Monica Garcia, has falsely accused me of pedophilia and having a sexual relation with the boxing coach.  No wonder, why it states that the unrighteous suppress the truth. 

Now, the City, mainly Council Member Pacheco, Mayor Lozano, and Chief Taylor don't want you to know they fired an innocent person on trumped up charges.  City Fires Boxing Coach

Even our local newspaper is, I believe, under the control of the City.  Ever since Raquel Monica Garcia has become Council Member, The San Gabriel Valley Tribune has never published anything about Baldwin Park that is negative.  One only need to read through the articles of my blog or my lawsuits to see what's really happening in this city.

Furthermore, when the Mayor knew we were suing the City at public comments period on October 2, 2013, he shutdown public comments period in violation of our First Amendment Rights and the Brown Act.

We're such hypocrites.  We love to point to the Chinese and say look at how its government treats its people.  Well - look at how a small Mexican-American city treats people who tell the truth against it. 

This is why Baldwin Park matters to you.  Yes, you don't live here.  But I write about this City primarily for you for two reasons.

First, remember, the nature of government is to suppress the truth when you expose its corruption.  Second, armed with little information, I'm showing you that we're fighting back. We're going to try against the odds - because it's the right thing to do.

* * * *

Join the fight.  Share the story.

I wanted thank everyone who emailed me your support.  I really appreciated it.  It truly hurt me that these City Officials harmed an innocent person by firing a boxing coach who was making minimum wage.  I find it some days, unbelievable.  But we must march on, knowing this won't stop us from exposing these people.