Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My trip around the world

In 2005 circumstances in my life allowed me to conceive of, and then embark on, a trip around the world. As I toured places I had only read about, I got a taste of life in different countries and experienced the warmth and hospitality of new people I kept an email journal which I sent to friends and family back at home.

I thought my writings had been lost because I no longer had the email account nor did I have access to the computer I had stored the files on. (This was long before FaceBook and blogging).

I have found the writings and read through one or two of the emails I sent at the time. I figured I should keep them in a safe place in case someone reads it one day and offers me a job as a travel writer.

Here are the ramblings of my six week journey to far flung countries.


Sun, 3 Apr 2005 20:29:49 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin" View Contact Details  View Contact Details


All my bags are packed ...

... and I'm ready to go.

Well, I am preparing to embark on my world journey. I will leave Chicago's O'Hare airport on Tuesday at 5:30pm and won't arrive in Singapore until Thursday April 7 at 8:00am (local time). My biggest concern is making sure that I haven't forgotten anything, did I pack my toothbrush (and toothpaste), did I remember to lock all the windows at the house and pull out the iron plug? All these things keep swimming around my mind.

As the time of my departure approaches I find myself eagerly anticipating the meals I will be served on the plane, just joking, since they don't feed you these days. I am looking forward to experiencing the sights and smells of a new environment, meeting people and learning about different cultures.

My itinerary is as follows:

April 5 - Leave Chicago

April 6 - Arrive in London and leave immediately for Singapore (please don't tell mommy that I will meet her in London, she thinks I will be at the airport in Singapore waiting for her when she arrives). I felt that given the great distance we have to travel it is much easier doing it together.

April 7 - Arrive in Singapore

April 11 - Arrive in Sydney

April 18 - Arrive in Auckland

April 25 - Arrive in Bangkok

April 28 - Arrive in London - Mommy will fly back to Bermuda - I will rest and overnight in London

April 29 - Arrive in Morocco - with Frances Marshall (one of my ace girls from Bermuda).

May 13 - Arrive in London

May 16 - 26 - I am trying to decide what I want to do for the final ten days. I keep thinking I should spend my 41st birthday (May 25 - cards and expensive gifts are always welcome - send them to Illinois) somewhere exotic. I keep thinking Bali but does it really make sense to fly back to that part of the world especially since I would have just left there two weeks earlier. In any case, I am open to suggestions - if you can think of somewhere wonderful to explore let me know and if I go there I will bring you something special.

May 27 - Return to Chicago

So that is my itinerary as it stands right now. I will do my best to send you an email on a regular basis - once a week or at least one message from each of the countries I will visit.

Feel free to email me and I will do my absolute best to answer it.

Take care and I will talk with you soon.




Thu, 7 Apr 2005 06:58:40 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin" View Contact Details  View Contact Details


Where in the world ...

We made it to Singapore safely. The flight from London felt as though it would never end. Can you imagine sitting for that length of time? I would say how long the flight was but I can't remember and there never was a consistent answer when I asked the question.

Flying into Singapore as the sun rose was awesome and a sight I won't forget in a hurry, what a welcome.

Once we arrived we caught a shuttle to our hotel, which is on the edge of Chinatown. We quickly found somewhere nearby to have a light breakfast and fell into bed. We slept from about 11am until 6pm when we woke up refreshed and ready to explore Chinatown and what an exploration it was. There were stalls selling everything from gems (genuine pearls and jade from Burma - not China!) to two layered silk organza tissue boxes. I got measured for a suit but the man wanted $650 US. He was steadily trying to sell me on this suit saying that one of his steady customers was an anchor on CNBC. I wanted to tell him that I didn't work for CBNC - then I thought, I don't work period so I didn't begin that discussion.

Singapore has lived up to its reputation as being clean. I think if you were so inclined you could eat off the streets. There is no littering and everything is sparkling clean, even the cars, as mommy pointed out. People have been friendly and helpful.

I was a little worried flying into the country because I understand that chewing gum was/is illegal and I have a package of Dentyne Cinnamon chewing gum in my backpack. I hid it well because I didn't want to end up in jail on my first leg of the trip. I won't take it out until we arrive safely in Australia. I can't believe I have broken a law already, not even in the country for 24 hours.

We are planning a tour of the city on Saturday and hopefully we will go on a tour to one of the nearby islands on Sunday.

I will keep you informed of our progress. So far it has been outstanding and if I can only stop falling asleep while I eat we will be good.

Take care and I will write again soon.



ps -- I almost forgot - mommy's surprise, yes she was surprised to see me in London. Bim (my brother who is working on his Master's thesis) met her at Gatwick and came with her to Heathrow. He saw me first and steered her towards me. I got a great picture of her as she walked towards me. Surprise!!! Later she kept saying, “I can't believe you're here!”


Sun, 10 Apr 2005 03:11:07 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin" View Contact Details  View Contact Details


Mommy discovers fire ...

Today is our last day in Singapore and there is still so much that we wanted to see. I think this means that we will have to make another trip here some time in the future. We will be heading to Sydney tomorrow morning, Monday.

We did an organized tour of the city yesterday, Saturday, and learned some interesting facts about Singapore. It is very much like Bermuda in that they are not at all self sufficient and have to import just about everything. They are a democratic island nation and the People's Action Party have been in power since 1959 (I think). Tourism and international business are their main economic pillars and they also have a thriving manufacturing industry. The car is an issue here and they have lotteries for cars, so everyone can't own one. Having said that their public transportation is fast and efficient and easy to navigate. We have been using the subway like pros. One more similarity with Bermuda that I can't leave out is that they have the same roaches we do - you know those huge brown ones. Sorry, didn't mean to gross you out.

We saw something that made us chuckle. There are small ice cream carts everywhere and they sell ice cream in little blocks that sit on a slice of bread - it is, are you ready for this, an ice cream sandwich!!! I am serious, they serve ice cream on bread! You walk around eating it like you would a ham sandwich.

There is a thriving Indian population and we visited Little India this afternoon. I think the temperature must have hit 90 degrees. The sun was beaming down on us and there wasn't a hint of a breeze anywhere. The atmosphere was different from Chinatown and you could almost believe that you were in India.

The question we were asked the most while here was, where are you from. When we said Bermuda there was this totally blank look on everyone's face. A few people asked us if we were from South Africa, go figure. The other question I was asked was about my hair. People were fascinated by it - I know they wanted to touch it but were far too polite to ask, and you know me, I wasn't volunteering to have my hair touched.

We leave Singapore with fond memories of a beautiful, lush island where the national flower is an orchid where they grow in abundance. The people are warm and welcoming and more than willing to help you even if you don't speak a word of their language. Did you know there is currently a public relations campaign urging people to be courteous to each other and say please and thank you ... what a country.

Oh, before I forget, how did mommy discover fire? Well, I exaggerated a little. Of course she didn't discover fire but she did discover how the hot water works in the shower. We thought that we were only able to get luke warm water for the shower, so for our entire stay here I have been jumping in and out of the shower with a view to using only as much water as it takes to wash essential body parts. Today (after we had showered, mind you) she discovered a switch outside the bathroom door which controls the heating element in the shower stall. I can't really explain the water dispensing unit adequately. Perhaps I will take a picture of it so you can see its complexity and why it took as long as it did to get the hot water working.

Our adventure continues ....

I will write more when we get to the land down under.

Aderonke signing off from Singapore, Singapore.

(The name of the city and country is the same but I have never heard anyone say Singapore, Singapore - which sounds strange but no one comments on New York, New York - go figure.)


Tue, 12 Apr 2005 20:12:19 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin" View Contact Details  View Contact Details


No worries ...

We arrived safely in Sydney on Monday night. Our first full day in the city was wonderful. However before I tell you about Australia I have to finish off with Singapore.

You would think that there wouldn't be much left to tell about the ride to the airport and then catching the flight to Sydney. However, Singapore's Changi International Airport is awesome. My friend Lee said that it was voted the best airport in the world. I can see why. Did you know that it has a spa, rest (sleep) rooms, outdoor gardens, restaurants, free internet access, a gym, a 24-hour supermarket and all the shopping you can ever want to do. My suggestion is simply to fly into Changi Airport, go through customs and immigration and then head over to departures. That alone would be worth the trip. (This way you won't have to worry about illegal chewing gum and the like.) I can see why people would deliberately want to miss flights in order to stay at the airport.

Sydney ...

It is an awesome city. Yesterday mommy and I went and had a look at the Sydney Opera House. It is just as you have seen it on tv and in pictures. Truly spectacular. We then took a boat tour of Sydney Harbour and were able to see it from the water. I realize that you don't see many pictures of the Opera House from the water, it gives you another prospective.

Did you know that Sydney has a number of nude beaches? We passed a few on the tour. The first beach featured an older gentleman standing in the buff at the water's edge watching a boatload of people watching him. It was hilarious and probably worth the price of admission. I did note that they hadn't put nude spotting in the tour description.

We also found out that if you stand on a corner and pull out a map you will soon have a crowd of people around you asking where you want to go and giving full details of how best to get there and everyone not always in agreement with each other. Needless to say people are very friendly and helpful.

Speaking of streets, Mommy and I timed it, you have exactly five and a half seconds to cross the road from the time the green man appears until the red man shows up. If you are on an especially wide street then you have to break out into a full out sprint in order to make it across in time. Okay, picture this, me and mommy running full speed across the major streets of Sydney .... spot the tourists.

On Friday we have booked a wine tasting tour which will take us out into the countryside. I am so looking forward to that. Can you imagine how much wine we will drink, I mean, taste. Mommy is hoping to see some wild kangaroos ... I'll report back on that over the weekend.

This is Aderonke signing off form Australia, where women glow and men thunder - lyrics from that group Men at Work - I never did understand that song.

Ps. Mommy and I have developed really great Australia accents ... G'day mate ... no worries. If you closed your eyes and listened really carefully you would hear how good my accent is and think that I was born here.


Sun, 17 Apr 2005 04:10:28 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin" View Contact Details  View Contact Details


Like a boomerang ... I will be back.

We have reached the end of our stay in Sydney; it has been wonderful. We leave tomorrow morning for Auckland, New Zealand.

The wine tour was all that we expected and more. I won't say that mommy got drunk but she was laughing a lot and, like yours truly, fell asleep on the bus ride back into the city. The tour we did took us to a number of vineyards in Hunter Valley. Unfortunately we didn't buy any bottles of wine because we had to take into consideration the amount of traveling we still have to do before we head back home. Having said that we (I will speak for myself) I tried to make sure I had enough wine during the tour so that it would seem as though I bought several bottles:-).

On the way to the vineyard the tour guide told us about a new on and off ramp that was recently added to the main highway. After it had been completed and before the official opening someone realized that they had used the wrong type of concrete so the machinery was brought back, it was dug up and relaid with the correct grade concrete. This new concrete caused so much noise the surrounding neighbors complained and before the official opening the machinery returned and it was dug up again. The third laying of concrete proved to be correct and they were finally able to hold the opening. It is said to be the most expensive stretch of road in Australia.

While on the wine tour, mommy was offered a job as a fruit picker. Australia is going to grant something like 20,000 new job permits over the next year or so and is looking for people to fill these positions. There is a shortage of skilled workers here. So if you are looking for a new job you can always come here and work. Mommy had to refuse the job but she was tempted.

Today we visited the Australian Museum. It was fascinating. There is an Egyptian exhibit which explores the beliefs held by the Egyptians of life after death. By far the most interesting exhibit was about the Indigenous people of Australia.

The people of Australia don't call themselves and each other Aboriginals. They refer to themselves and each other as:

Koori - those from south eastern Australia

Yolngu - those from eastern Norther Australia

Nunga - those from some areas of South Australia

Palawa - those from Tasmania

Nyoogah - those from some areas of Western Australia

Murri - those from Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

I spent a long time in the Indigenous Cultural section. Theirs is an interesting history with a lot of adversity and hardships. According to the Australian Museum, "The indigenous cultures of Australia are the oldest living cultures of the world. One of the reasons these cultures have survived for so long is their capacity to adapt over time. In spite of the impact of years of European misunderstanding and indifference, Indigenous Australians are keeping culture alive by:

- passing their knowledge, art, rituals and performances from one generation to another

- speaking and teaching language

- protecting cultural property and sacred and significant sites and objects."

I discovered that I love Australian artwork and would love to have purchased a few choice pieces to take home with me. Given that my luggage is already overweight I had to be ruthless and pick up only two very small pieces.

We leave Sydney knowing that we will have to return and see the Outback and try to get to another part of the country. We also leave knowing that we must have walked just about every corner of the city because we walked everywhere we went every day. (I just hope I lost some weight here.)

We are off to conquer New Zealand. I will file my next report from there.

This is Aderonke signing off from the home of the kangaroo and koala and boomerang. Did you know that according to the Australian Museum "... there are many types of boomerangs but true boomerangs return when thrown. Boomerangs are used for hunting, in combat and sometimes in games of skill. They are also used in a range of ceremonies as musical instruments."


Tue, 19 Apr 2005 21:39:47 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin" View Contact Details  View Contact Details


Under Downunder

Kia ora (Hello),

I think I have run out of descriptions for countries. New Zealand is amazing. The landscape is as green and lush as you have heard and perhaps seen. Auckland is surrounded by water and is a spectacular city to look at.

We arrived on Monday afternoon and have been rushed off our feet since. There is a two-hour time difference between New Zealand and Australia so my body clock is so totally confused I am not sure when I should be sleeping. In fact, I have adopted the attitude that sleep is over-rated and I'm not even bothering to go to bed.

Mommy and I have just come from the most amazing reflexology session. I have never had my feet manipulated in such a fashion. I thought a full body massage was the ultimate but until you have had a reflexology session you don't know what you are missing. Right now all I want to do is curl up somewhere with a nice hot cup of chamomile tea.


It is a growing city that is spread out over a relatively large area, unlike most cities. I understand that it is often compared with Los Angeles in terms of the land it encompasses. On average 71 new people move to the city each day, can you imagine? There is a lot of building going on with new schools and housing in great demand.

The Maoris were the first inhabitants of the islands and share a rich and diverse culture. The city tour we did this morning encompassed a visit to the Auckland Museum where we were able to see a Maori demonstration which included traditional singing and dancing and the use of poi balls. There was a little audience participation and yours truly was up on stage, you would have thought I was born here:-).

Did you know that kiwi is:

a fruit

an animal

a team

the people

I'm sure that I will find that there are other types of kiwis but for now that is all I have on my list.

On Friday we fly to the south island which I understand is more amazing that the north island. I will let you know how we make out.

This is Aderonke signing off from the land of the many kiwis.


Sat, 23 Apr 2005 21:52:27 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin" View Contact Details  View Contact Details


It's a small world!

This is our last day in Christchurch and what an adventure New Zealand has been. We visited the tallest building in the southern hemisphere and learned that NZ has no natural mammals, unlike Australia. I would like to take some time and tell you about the constellations as they appear from this part of the world and wax poetic about the moon and stars. Alas, I don't know any astronomy and my knowledge of the vast skies is wanting. All I can suggest is if you want to know have a look online and then forward the information to me.

The weather here has been, in a word, freezing! Today we have seen snow, sleet, hail and rain and this is only April. The south island doesn't usually see this type of weather until July or so. It is still a little strange to me that while we (northern hemisphere) are enjoying, or suffering, depending on how you look at it, the hottest months of the year this part of the world is experiencing the coldest. Everyone keeps saying, the wind is coming straight from the antartic. What a concept to be this close to the south pole.

Since we arrived in Christchurch Mommy and I have been wearing all of the winter clothes we brought with us. Three layers of shirts and sweaters with our jackets and hats. I forgot my gloves and scarf. If you know Mommy you know she came prepared for the worst and hasn't been sorry. Needless to say we are looking forward to the hot and humid climate of Thailand, where we have been assured the temperature will not drop below 95 degrees.

I have to share this amazing story with you. While in Singapore, on the city tour, we met a couple from NZ. We chatted with them for a bit and got some great tips for our time in Auckland, where they live. We didn't have time to exchange contact information and waved good-bye to them at the end of the tour and went our separate ways.

While in Auckland everyone we met said we had to visit an island called Waiheke which is about half an hour by ferry from mainland Auckland. It sounded so much like Bermuda in that they collect rainwater in above-ground tanks which are situated beside their homes. The water is then piped into the house for regular use. They also sink wells for times when there are droughts. We even saw a couple of water trucks roaming around the island delivering water. (Just in case you are curious the cost is NZ$155 a load. The trucks look about twice the size of the ones delivering water in Bermuda.) What a flashback to home!

On Thursday Mommy and I hopped on the ferry to Waiheke and once we arrived walked into the tiny village. We located the only restaurant and sat down for a leisurely lunch. While I was reading the local newspaper, catching up on local politics and world events, mommy was people watching. Suddenly I heard her exclaim and then she jumped up and ran out of the restaurant. I was momentarily stunned and like the good daughter I am, I jumped up and ran after her.

I found her talking to some people. As I approached I was thinking to myself who in the world (literally) can mommy know this far from Bermuda? I quickly realized that it was the couple from Singapore!! Can you imagine! Of the millions of people in NZ we ran into them. Apparently they have a weekend cottage on Waiheke and were there with their kids this week because school was out for two weeks. We chatted with them for a while and they promised to collect us after lunch for a visit to their house and a tour of the island.

True to their word they came back and we had tea with them at their beautiful cottage in the woods and then we went on a tour of the sleepy little island. We took lots of pictures and had a wonderful afternoon. I am still blown away and amazed that we ran into each other. Speaking of small worlds!

We now prepare to leave New Zealand having made new friends and learned about southern hospitality.

This is Aderonke signing off from the land of real football (rugby) - Go All Blacks!!

ps I tried kiwi fruit juice for the first time in my life. It tastes a little like chicken - no just joking, it taste like orange and perhaps honeydew melon mixed, if you can imagine it.


Tue, 26 Apr 2005 08:17:05 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin" View Contact Details  View Contact Details


Where exactly is Bermuda?

We arrived from Sydney tired and ready for bed. The flight from Christchurch to Sydney was three hours and then from Sydney to Thailand another nine with an hour wait in between. We arrived in Thailand at 11pm local time which was 4am NZ time. Are you with me so far?

We stood in the immigration line, as you do, and patiently awaited our turn. We approached the desk, when called, and gave in our Bermuda passports. Well! The questions started. What flight were you on? Where are you from? Where is Bermuda? Where is your return ticket? Where will you be staying while in Thailand? How long are you staying and (more importantly) where is your visa?

Um Um. We are from Bermuda and we were told we didn't need visas to come to Thailand. Honestly, they told us we were fine.

The Immigration officer looked at us suspiciously then leaned over to her colleague on the right and after a brief, whispered discussion it looked as though there would be no help from that quarter. Then she looked to the left, nothing doing. She reached over and turned on the red light summoning the supervisor. He came over and looked at our passports, looked at us and said, "Please follow me." OH MY GOD!!!!!!

We go over to the supervisor's supervisor who has a line at his desk. He is steadily processing the passports of other 'problem' travelers. Conversation ensues. One person comes over and says, 'Where is Bermuda?' Luckily I have been traveling around with my handy dandy map of the world. I whip it out and show him the small dot in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. That doesn't seem to provide much help with the passport processing. Discussion continues.

We sit, watch, wait, holding our breaths hoping and praying that they don't kick us out of the country - before we see it. We are next approached by representatives of Qantas who tell us that we are going to be put back on the plane which is heading to London. (Another 12 hours of flying). We will not be allowed to stay in Thailand! WHAT!!!?

We see frantic activity in the head honcho's office. Everyone is on the phone, presumably trying to locate Bermuda and determine its importance to world economics and if east-west relations will be destroyed if they turned back two weary travelers.

The lady from Qantas was steadily talking on the two-way, having located our luggage and presumably making arrangements to have it put back on the plane. Then the atmosphere seemed to change, there was a collective sigh of relief (or was that me and mommy) and we knew we were in when the Qantas lady, whispered, "you are lucky, you are lucky".

I am still not sure exactly what happened and how they determined that we were harmless tourists but our passports were stamped and we were given permission to stay in the country for a month, if we wanted! All this took about 45 minutes and I will tell you I have never tried to learn a language so quickly in my life. I wanted desperately to understand what was going on around us and provide useful information, as needed. All I will say is, if you have a Bermudian passport and plan to come to Thailand - get a visa!

Since our first hour was drama-filled, everything else has gone very well. Thailand is like nothing I have ever experienced. It is fast-paced, energetic and alive. If you think NY is the place to be for action, you have to come to Thailand for excitement and cultural immersion. You want to look everywhere and experience all the sights and smells and try to understand all that is happening around you. You fear that you may miss something important. We are bordering on sensory overload.

Kevin and his family are also here and we are all staying in the same hotel - Ambassador Bangkok. Kevin and Thanya live in the downstairs apartment of my house in Bermuda. Thanya is from Thailand and coincidentally they arrived here yesterday, as we did, presumably without incident. Kevin and I found out about a month ago that we would be in Thailand at the same time and planned to have lunch or tea together, time and schedules permitting. So far we saw them briefly this morning and then ran into them again while out shopping. As you can imagine, they have been extremely helpful and given us tons of great advice.

Did I mention the weather yet? It is scorching! This morning mommy and I went to see the reclining buddha - it is amazing and beautiful and huge; we then walked to the Grand Palace. As soon as we got out of the taxi I started sweating and my clothes stayed damp all day. We made sure we were hydrated and tried to stay in the shade as much as possible. I don't know if this is the hottest month in Bangkok, but let me assure you it can't get any hotter.

All is all we are loving it here. Unfortunately we leave tomorrow (Wednesday night/Thursday morning) for London. In fact, we will have only spent about 48 hours in Bangkok, when we could have stayed much longer. Once we get to London mommy will fly directly back to Bermuda. So if you see her within the next week or so and she seems a little disoriented, know that she is severely jetlagged and probably in need of a vacation.

This is Aderonke signing off from Bangkok, arguably the busiest city in the world.


Sun, 1 May 2005 11:41:11 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin"


The Marrakesh Express

First of all let me start by saying that I am using a French keyboard so if there are typos please ignore them.

I waved good-bye to Mommy on Thursday afternoon and I miss her terribly.

Frances and I arrived safely in Morocco on Friday evening. After the unforgettable episode with Bangkok Immigration, I spent a sleepless night in London worrying about our Moroccan-visaless status. The worrying was for naught - Frances and I presented our passports to the Moroccan Immigration officer and he did not say one word to us. The best sound I heard on Friday was that of the immigration stamp on my passport.

Marrakech is unbelievable. The main town center is like nothing I have ever seen. First of all the town is enclosed within walls that were built centuries ago. There are thousands of stalls that make up the main shopping district with narrow streets that wind their way through the city. As you walk you are jockeying for space with donkey/mule drawn carts, pedal bikes, speeding mopeds and hundreds of other pedestrians (cars are not permitted within the city walls). The colors you see are spectacular, with spices and clothing competing for your attention with silk cloth and hand-knotted rugs.

In the center of the main square there are food stalls where you select the type of meal you would like to eat and it is prepared in front of you as you sit and watch the chef go to work. Vendors sell everything from boiled snails, to fried fish, to potato and egg sandwiches and one local delicacy that I have not worked up the nerve to try - boiled lambs' brains. The brain is displayed beside the head it used to be in, presumably, and you select the brain you wish to eat. It is then prepared to your specifications - I think this is one local delicacy I am happy to skip.

It would appear that the local Arab gentlemen have a passionate love for African beauties -namely yours truly. As Frances and I have been walking around, I have had men walk up to me and declare their undying love. On our first night we visited a leather stall and the owner, instead of trying to sell us goods, asked me how many camels my family wanted for me. I flippantly answered, one million. He exclaimed this wasn't enough and he would pay two million camels for me. I opened my mouth to begin the negotiation process and was saved by Frances who pulled me out of the stall - I walked away saddened to think my family could have been several million camels richer and I would have been living in a Beduine tent in the desert somewhere. I have since learned my lesson and when I am approached with marriage offers I simply say "merci" and keep walking.

We will spend two weeks in Morocco. Next weekend we will travel outside the city to see some of the countryside. I am not sure what the internet facilities will be like but if there is a computer somewhere I will file my next report from the road.

Before I sign off I have to tell you about our riad. A riad is like bed and breakfast or a small guest house. The owners generally live on the property and you are given room with a bathroom en suite. The first riad we stayed at is owned by a French lady who has lived here most of her adult life. The riad was furnished in true Moroccan style and was extremely comfortable and very homey. Today we moved to another riad and this was like something in a movie. When we walked in a young lady brought water to us in a bowl so we could wash our hands. We sat in the courtyard and ate a leisurely lunch. Once we got to our room, I didn't want to leave, it was like walking into a spa. I am going to enjoy my time at Riad 72. If you ever come to this phenominal city make sure you get the address from me; I promise, you won't be disappointed. Before you get here, please learn French because English is not the language of choice.

This is Aderonke signing off from the lap of luxury.


Wed, 11 May 2005 06:26:26 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin"


Fear Factor

It has been quite a while since I last wrote. So much has happened I am not sure where I should begin.

Frances and I spent six days in Marrakech, rented a jeep, then traveled through Ouazazate on our way to the Dadas Gorge. We are now in a coastal town called Essaouira.


I mentioned Riad 72 in an earlier message. What I didn't tell you or didn't know at the time is there is a 4am wake up call. Let me explain. Morocco is an extremely religious Muslim country. Throughout each day there are five calls to worship. Mosques have been built everywhere and at the top of each building there are loud speakers and the Imam's prayers are heard in the immediate vicinity. At these times many people stop what they are doing to go to the nearest mosque or they find a quiet room to pray.

There is a mosque right outside of Riad 72 which we didn't notice when we checked in. At 4am the call to worship started and because it was so loud and sudden Frances and I were startled out of our sleep and sat up dead straight in our respective beds, totally disoriented, with our hearts pounding loudly we almost started screaming because we didn't know what was going on. It sounded as though the loud speakers were in the room with us. After a while we collected our wits and settled down to listen to the prayer. I would like to say I fell asleep immediately after the call to worship ended but that didn't happen. We stayed in Riad 72 for three lonnng nights ....

One of the great things Frances organized before coming on the trip was dinner at one of the fanciest restaurants in Marrakech, which is in a swank hotel. We got dressed up and went to dine with the elite of the city. We walked in, our table was ready and we sat to enjoy the ambiance and great food. As we were talking and eating I happened to glance up and I saw Patrick Stewart walk in the door. You know, the captain of the Starship Enterprise, Star Trek, the Next Generation. He is famous for saying, "Make it so, Number One" and "Tea; Earl Grey, hot." Anyway, he sat across from me. I couldn't believe it. Frances, isn't a big Trekkie so wasn't quite sure who he was but I assured her he was famous.

During the dinner there was a belly dancer who entertained the diners. As I took pictures of her, Patrick Stewart just happened to get in the frames so I will definitely send them out when I get back to Chicago.

Speaking of our meal at the expensive hotel, Frances ordered a Moroccan salad which consists of 12 small dishes with all these exotic foods in them. One of them was sheep's brain. She is a vegetarian and thus encouraged me to try the brains. I felt as though I was on Fear Factor. I took a little brain on my fork and tears came to my eyes. I couldn't believe that I was about to try it. I took a swallow of wine, to build up my courage, or get drunk, I’m not sure which, and put the fork in my mouth. I wish I could say it tasted like chicken. It didn't. It tasted like nothing I have ever had. It was a little spongy with a firm texture. All I can say is if you want more of a description, you need to try it for yourself and then give me the words.

Dadas Gorge

Think of the Grand Canyon and you will have a mental image that approaches the magnificence of Dadas Gorge. It is beautiful and breath-taking up there. We traveled to the top in our 4x4. While in the gorge we got a chance to do some off-roading with our guide Mohamed. He is Berber and a wonderful person. I think we have made a friend for life.


Essaouira is a ten hour drive from the Dades Gorge. We passed through Marrakech on the way here. Driving in Marrakech is like driving in NY with all the signs in Arabic and the rules of the road whatever you decide them to be at that moment. I was at the wheel and since neither of us read or speak Arabic it was every man (and woman) for themself. I am sure I broke several laws and may be wanted by the Moroccan authorities but we made it and have lived to tell the tale. I will say this, pedestrians have no rights when it comes to crossing the streets, even if you are on the cross walk. Basically you have to play chicken with the driver to see who will stop first, usually it is the pedestrian. I have never seen anything like it. I can hear you ask the question, did I stop for pedestrians, my response is, when in Rome ... or in this case, Marrakech ....

It is beautiful here. Essaouira is on the coast and the water is lovely but cold. No, I won't get in as I already know how the Atlantic Ocean feels. The people are exceedingly friendly and we have been greeted warmly. I met a gentleman this morning from the Sahara. He said the movie, The Mummy was filmed in his village. He was an extra and doubled as one of the actors who had gotten ill. Of course, I took his picture so I can look for him in the movie because I will rent it once I am back in the US.

What can I say about this trip? Morocco is one of the places in the world I have to revisit. I will spend more time outside of the city where life is less hectic and you make a real connection with the people.

This is Aderonke signing off, from Morocco where my dowry now stands at five million camels.

ps - I have had a cold for the last few days and I have now lost my voice which makes communicating an interesting process. If not knowing the language was a problem before try not being able to talk at all - and you know how loud I talk - this is torture.


Thu, 19 May 2005 07:02:42 -0700 (PDT)


"Aderonke Lubin" View Contact Details  View Contact Details


The best place in the world

I know you are wondering where, exactly, I am in this vast world. Well, I am at home in Lynwood, Illinois. I made it as far as London last week and for the following reasons decided to come home:

I had run out of money - the US dollar is extremely weak around the world and doesn't stretch as far as it used to;

I had given away all my clothes to the gentleman I met in Morocco from the Sahara for his village;

I was plagued by stomach problems (which I won't go into detail about but I'm sure you get the picture);

I had a cold that continued to linger - although I have regain the use of my vocal chords, thank goodness;

I was in need of a good night's sleep - and you know there's nothing like sleeping in your own bed, especially when you don't have to guess when the sheets and blankets were last washed; and

I couldn't face another long plane ride

I have come to the conclusion that no matter how far you go, there is no place like home. With that in mind I have decided to go to Bermuda to celebrate my 41st birthday. I leave Chicago on Saturday - May 21 and return on May 29.

Thank you for accompanying on my journey around the world and your many emails which I enjoyed reading while traveling. I also want to thank my two companions who I would, without hesitation, travel anywhere in the world with again. Mommy, Frances, where are we going next?

This adventure was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I enjoyed every minute. I have had time to reflect on life and the journeys we must all make whether physical or emotional. I have grown tremendously in the last few months and even during my darkest hours I like to think that those lessons have made me a better, more compassionate person.

I have returned home with a new energy and focus. Yes, I will be going back to work, finally and will share more of that decision with you in due course.

It's great to be back!

God bless you,


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