…And I Would Walk 500 Miles (Davis).

Alright, folks. Dream interpretations came through blog comments, Facebook comments and e-mails, and the only clear winner was… my self-esteem. You all went for flattery just as much as wit. I can’t judge that, but I appreciated every bit.

I did like the analysis that red and blue + search for white = complex thoughts about returning to the United States, which is only 27 days away. And purple? My love for Relay.

I also cracked up at the thought the reason I was crying was because this was my one shot at getting married before my sister Cassandra does.

She’s fifteen.

It’s been decided I’m finally leaving Nice. I told that to a staff member. He did my laundry six nights ago and said today, “You just can’t leave, can you?” I swore I was leaving tomorrow and he said, “Don’t swear. We have availability every night until you’re due in Paris.”

I could stay. Every day in Nice has cost me 2/3s of my daily budget, I’ve made buddies and every night the hostel chef cooks a gourmet meal for cheap. Tonight was salmon.

I’ve settled into a nice (Nice) routine. Exhaust myself through the afternoon, come back and write for a bit, share my gourmet dinner with the new hostel friend of the day…

My alcohol intake on this trip has been very, very low. I’m not a big club-goer and coffee during the day beats alcohol at night in my budget prioritizing. That said, in Nice, I’ve loved my one euro happy hour beer between 6:00-7:00 in the hostel common room. I sit back, read a book, listen to music, make friends.

I’ve never been a tank. I’ve always been a cheap date but by the time I graduated college, I could hold my own on a night out alright. Apparently now, however, I’m a cheaper date than ever. The typical beer size is a .5L and halfway through it the other night, I’m… I’m… I’m tipsy?

I went up to the bar about forty minutes after I’d bought my beer. “Care for another beer?” he says.

Giggle giggle giggle. I have half my first left. I… was actually just… going to order a brownie. Iiiii… I can’t feel my face.

My friend Cameron today: “Oh that’s the free roofie. One with every beer, why you think I keep staying here?”

I’m sticking to coffee.

I’d been told I had to go to the Matisse museum in Nice. I’d been told it was probably close to my hostel. I do not fact-check advice.

I left my hostel sans map and started walking. I had seen road signs pointing to it and figured I’d find it. If I took a direct route or public transportation to get to anywhere, I could’ve been home three weeks ago.

I walked, and walked…

I just kept following the signs.

I wasn’t lost. There were still more signs.

Conceivably, anywhere is walkable. Forty minutes into my entirely-uphill directly sunlit walk, it felt like forty years, and the Matisse museum was quickly becoming the Promised Land.

I finally stopped at a bus stop to see just how far this walk would be. I like measuring by the number of public transportation stops. My Nice hostel to Nice train station? Two tram stops. Not worth one euro. I walked instead.

Try counting these stops.

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I was carrying two water bottles on me, but I had three cups of unlimited coffee at breakfast and by the time I got to the museum, I was a bit dehydrated and giggly. I was tired. I’d later Google Map the route and it was “only” about five kilometers, but uphill and unprepared for it, it was more than I’d anticipated walking by noon.

When I set foot in the park, the first thing I saw was this sign.

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For whatever reason, big fit of giggles. Randomly named gravel path around the park of the Matisse Museum, big, big ol’ mess of dehydrated giggles.

I walked into the museum – you all know my ability to pay attention at museums. My body was out of sorts. Picture me trying to interpret the art of Matisse with a severe case of dehydrated caffeine shakes. I’m laughing, thinking, really? A couple kilometers uphill and this is where we’re at? Is the day’s story going to be passing out in a Nice museum?

There was a giant room with three small items on display. I’m probably the first person to ever feel it necessary to sit on the red couch in that room.

I survived. I sat under an olive tree for an hour and the garden smelled amazing.

And then I walked home.

Cameron, tonight: “Wait, you walked there? That bus took ages to get up that hill! Tell me you took the bus back at least.”

That would have just made too much sense.

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Hey Readers, Cannes You Interpret This Dream?

Wow. In the three days since I posted about my “date” with Sefan, the story has been read 89 times… And that doesn’t include the 60 email subscribers.

For a trip that would happen regardless of the blog, and silly stories written regardless of the number of readers, it means a lot that so many people have essentially joined this trip with me. 89, 100, 125 readers doesn’t put me on any bestseller’s list, but it’s a lot of names of friends and faces to be traveling with when you start counting them on your fingers or thinking about what it would look like if I filled a room with all of you. It’s always fun to hear from someone – a cousin I haven’t seen in ten years, a high school teacher, an old coworker – and find out they’ve been reading along.

Blogging is such a weird concept to me sometimes. It seems narcissistic, conceited.

Hey, hey… I bet you want to hear about my day.

My circumstances certainly aren’t normal, but I don’t want this to end in 28 days when my trip does.

Anyway, thank you, everyone. There’s a competition at the end of this post for you all, and a souvenir on the line.

Gyasi! Shout-out to subscriber number 60. Also because he told me on Facebook to write another post, as though one day I was just going to up and quit. “Enough of that.” Gyasi, I didn’t put your last name here because you would forever be linked to my blog in a Google search.

The pre-blind date car accident I wrote about in my previous post happened just prior to Halloween. At my fraternity’s chapter meeting the next week, the question all the e-board members answered before presenting their updates was “What will your headstone say?”

The minutes got put online, and now and forever, when you Google my name…

“Janae: Spontaneously combusted on her way to a date.”

So today… What’s fun today. Some leftovers from Pisa I forgot about.

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Please respect the other guests. Feel free to flush your kitten.

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I (insert term depending on if you think that is male or female anatomy) Hostel PT.

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The only thing I hate more than men who leave toilet seats up are men who clog toilets with their tampons.

Cannes today! My time in Nice has turned into a vacation within a vacation and I’m just not leaving when I can keep doing day trips to fancy places. I’ve been to rough, poorer, maybe a little more battered areas in the past few months, and while I don’t at all fit in with the Dior/Gucci crowd of Monaco and Cannes, it’s been a fun few sunny days.

Thirty minutes from big pebbly beach of Nice? Cannes has a bunch of sand! I’m sure there is some scientific, erosion, weather pattern based reason, but whatever. I was shocked. It was exciting.

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There was a big storm recently that left a lot of natural debris on the shore. It made for a messy walk in some parts but a lot of seashells. Free souvenirs from Cannes.

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Cannes was a happy, sunny place today. There were a lot of men in suits that cost more than my entire trip, families tanning, French boys playing catch with a football. Like, American football. Naive of me I didn’t know they had those here? I always like little moments like that. On a train in Germany, a woman never spoke a word of English the entire ride, but when her cell phone rang, it was Beach Boys Wouldn’t It Be Nice, a song only second to God Only Knows in making it on most mix cd’s and playlists at my house.

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On the train back to Nice, I made a friend. There was a big ol’ language barrier, but I think his name sounded like Yahtzee.

We played the “You speak a little English and I speak no French” game. Yahtzee is from Tunisia. I know this because he handed me his green Republic of Tunisia passport, which opens backwards.

He asked me if I’m married and I laughed.

He asked me if I have a boyfriend. Men on trains should just know the answer is always going to be yes. True or not.

Yage? Yage? He’s asking my age. Two two.

“Oh, baby. You are a baby.”

Okay.

“My yage.” Raises hand high. “I’m much older.” My guess is mid-30s, but I don’t offer it.

“Two eight.”

Oh yeah dude, you’re ancient. Did you really just call me a baby?

“You. Too young to get married. Ha ha ha.”

You know when someone who wants to share a laugh with you playfully gives you that unnecessary punch on the arm?

I mean, I’m not packing a lot of padding, but he basically punched me to the bone. It flippin’ hurt.

“Ha ha ha.”

What the hell, bro.

Things intensify and I realize I’ll be thankful this is a 29-minute ride.

He wants my phone number and email – “Facebook.” Insists. It’s one of those trains where seats are sectioned off into compartments and we’re alone, so I have to play this right or it’s going to get really uncomfortable fast.

Okay, so I might’ve given him a fake phone number and my first name mixed with my high school Spanish teacher’s last name, fakeemailaddress@yahoo.com.

He asks for my home address. He’d already asked me if I’m rich (that was awkward) and now home address.

I don’t have one.

“No, your home. Your house.”

Yeah, I got you. I don’t have one.

“You don’t?”

Haha. Nope. I pack a digital camera and an iPad on me, but no house. I travel.

When we stood up to leave the train, now surrounded by people in the hallway, he took my hair and formed it into a ponytail. Ironic because this morning, I was just thinking about how soft my hair is and how much I like my conditioner.

Dude, get out of my hair.

Oh, the joys of being a girl…

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Thanks, America. I feel much the same about this as I did a Pizza Hut in Germany that had in big bold letters on the window “Pizza the American Way.” Really? Are we owning that? Because I don’t remember voting on that one.

Competition time. If you got this far in the post, I want your interpretation.

Last night, didn’t fall asleep until 4a.m. When I finally did, I had this dream.

I was standing in as the bride at my friend’s wedding. Yes, not my wedding, my friend’s.

Don’t know what friend, don’t know the groom.

As I’m getting ready, I slip on the dress. It’s ivory, long sleeves and a collar. A lot of lace. Everyone around is almost ready.

And I’m panicking because I realize all I have is a blue bra and purple underwear. Which obviously you can see through an ivory dress.

And I’m digging through my red backpack, searching and searching for anything white or nude colored, but my bag is now bottomless.

And I’m panicked, because I’m going to ruin all my friend’s wedding photos.

And everyone is getting mad at me, because the wedding was supposed to start at 2:00 and it’s now 2:34.

But I can’t go, because I can’t find my keys.

And they’re all yelling at me, because the groom’s proposal expires at 3p.m.

And I’m crying.

And then I woke up, wondering what the heck that was all about.

Dream interpreters. Creative friends, followers I’ve never met – best/wittiest wins… Something.

Comment. Hit me with your best shot.

Oh, You Know. Love and Stuff and Awkwardness.

Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk- real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.

-Jack Kerouac, On the Road

My housekeeping friend came over to me at breakfast this morning when I was on my second bowl of cocoa puffs. I love this hostel – I was getting so sick of corn flakes and this one has four different cereals that will turn your milk chocolate. Plus I got upgraded from a sixteen mixed to a five female dorm for free, it came with a towel and cute bartender I straight talk don’t flirt with gave me two brownies for the price of one last night. I love Nice. I’m just going to keep staying here.

My housekeeping friend came over to tell me he talked to Her last night. Just talked, he didn’t ask her out. “I’m going to, I will. Man, I just like her so much. She wants to go to South America, help kids, save the world or something. She amazes me.

And you know, I, I don’t have intentions with her… Not those intentions, you know? I just… I just like being around her.”

Well, my breakfast just got a little sweeter. Boy is in love. We exchanged contact information so we could catch up if he’s ever back in New York, or as I see it, so I get invited to their wedding. Whichever comes first.

We talked awhile longer and I shared more of that tried and true dating advice.

First, follow signs.

If your ex-boyfriend texts you “Are you still looking for someone?” when he clearly knows you’re single and really the only answer to that text would be “No, in the six months since we dated for three weeks I’ve come to realize that, at age twenty, there is no hope for me,” don’t accept his offer to set you up on a blind date with his coworker’s friend. Especially when he sets it up at a restaurant and table where he will be the waiter.

See the signs? See how red the flags were?

Well, I sure as hell didn’t, so on my way home to shower for this date, fate punted my car across the biggest intersection on my college campus at 4p.m. on a Friday.

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Could you imagine being the guy I was supposed to meet? Getting that text from his friend? “Hey man, she can’t come… She got in a car accident.” Sure, sure she did.

Second, stay hydrated.

Once upon a mid-June this year, I had a most brilliant idea. If I had to be at work at 8a.m., I could get to the coffee shop at 7:30, read Rick Steve’s Best of Europe 2011 while drinking coffee #1, and have plenty of time to go through the line again for a refill.

Yeah, you do that. Do yourself a favor and order a tall. Don’t bring your giant refillable mug that you’re only going to be a quarter of the way through at 7:53a.m., because 20oz is a hot lot of coffee to chug.

My mother would ask me later that night, “…why didn’t you just dump it?”

Well, I didn’t want him to catch me!

Twelve minutes and forty ounces of coffee into my workday, I am bouncing off the walls in my boss’ office.

“How are you this morning?”

I… have had… so much caffeine.

“What… Why?”

I’MINLOVEWITHTHESTARBUCKSBARISTA

Not something a normal person exclaims at 8:13a.m. in their boss’ office.

Fast-forward to the next evening, caffeine intake still at an all-time high. I slammed my finger in a door at my cousin’s house and while icing it, passed out in his arms in a golden moment.

JANAE. JANAE. ARE YOU WITH ME.

I came to and said, “Yeah, I’m fine.”

YOU’RE NOT FINE! YOU’RE NOT FINE!

It was only then I realized I was sitting on the kitchen floor.

The only other time in my life I fainted was on a hot summer day in a standing-room only church. Dad kept telling ten-year-old me to stand up straight, and so annoyed, I defiantly locked my knees.

I sure showed him.

The next morning, avoiding caffeine as much as I could, I ordered a tall decaf. I’d decided a water bottle was only acceptable at lunch on a really hot day, and I’d already done that once. Thank god the cute boy behind the counter said “That’s okay, hydration is important,” because I was secretly panicked this thought would backfire. Only obnoxious snobby jerks buy $4 water bottles.

My tall decaf coffee was free that day. A sweet gesture, then highlight of the summer – probably because it was the biggest “Why even bother?” coffee order.

I know… Why…why bother. You don’t know… You still don’t know why I bother…

Sigh.

Today, my hostel offered a short free tour of Nice. The highlight absolutely was a knob at the end of a staircase the tour guide very seriously told us you rub “for good fertility.”

The four boys in the group all let out sounds translating to “ew, gross.” The other girl and I both took a rain-check on that offer.

Afterward, I wandered and avoided the touristy areas. To be honest, I’m a little afraid of running into Sefan. Our coffee was lovely, and I am not on this trip saying “I’m seeing someone” in my intro to every guy I meet… But somewhere I missed a window of opportunity and the offer was out there for dinner. “I’ll come to Nice on the bus and pick you up, we’ll take the bus back to my town for dinner, and I’ll take the bus back with you to Nice so you don’t get lost.”

I have plenty of freedom, but I’m not quite up for being candlelit-dinner-single. But instead of saying something to that effect, because I’m a slightly ridiculous and apparently mildly competitive person, my reaction to “so you don’t get lost” was “Sefan, I’m on my 28th European city by myself. Villefranche is seven minutes away by the slow train.”

In maybe not my most shining moment as a human being, he has my cell number and I have his email. My cell functions… when charged. If I didn’t know better, I would think I have massively bad dating karma coming my way.

So I’ve been avoiding running into Sefan, who I know is on vacation until Friday…

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I wandered out to the lighthouse today. Out with a bunch of old fisherman, away from tourists, not really even sure if I was allowed out there. I completely missed the paved path to the edge, rather taking the lower path full of 2 foot gaps. At one point, I climbed off a block I knew I wouldn’t have the arm-strength to climb back up. I figured I had a couple hours sunlight to figure that issue out. I sat out on a block for hours tanning, listening to music… Not writing, because I’ve lost my magic pen. Just thinking.

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Beautiful day. Life is beautiful.

That’s all for today. With (lots of) love,

Nae

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Also, That Time I Gave A Man Dating Advice In Nice, France.

People. Life is too short not to talk to people.

I got called a “rare gem” today based on being willing to have a conversation with a stranger. I don’t share that to brag, as that isn’t something, a title, I want to own. As much as it flattered me at the moment, it bums me out both then and now. It’s something I don’t understand. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t strike up a conversation with a stranger. They won’t all be gems, some you’ll want to escape almost immediately, but you’re going to learn something every time. It’s a guaranteed new experience.

I guess it’s something that takes confidence, I guess you can’t be shy… But ask any of my girlfriends. I’m not a walking mountain of confidence – heck, I have been and can be a massive ball of insecurity. A little less every day, a lot less lately, but it’s there.

I see people all the time on trips similar to mine avoiding eye contact, brushing off conversation – not being giggly and shy but rather simply deciding not to give me or the others around them the time of day. I wonder why and how that is. What a miserable existence that must be, to filter who you think you should spend your valuable time talking to. How do you make new friends? Job contacts? How do you ever intend to meet the one?

I’m not suggesting you strike up a conversation with every shifty-eyed man you come across. If you’re in a sunny public area and they smile, why wouldn’t you say hello?

It was 10:30 a.m. and I was getting ready to catch the 22-minute train ride to Monte Carlo, Monaco. I wasn’t going to catch the 10:53, but definitely the 11:23. There was a knock at the door – “housekeeping” – and a guy came in and asked if he could strip the beds of my two departed roommates. I peeked out of the bathroom, face covered in moisturizing lotion because I do girly things like that on occasion. “Sure!”

We spent the next two hours talking.

He’s from New York and moved here recently. He’s 33. “I’m older than I look.” 100% true. Twenty minutes later he would tell me I seem way older than I am.

I really hope when I’m thirty I seem thirty.

We talked politics, travel, life. He explained how he had always wanted to come to France. He had done a trip like mine and always wanted to come back. He told me how it took him ten years to return and now he sleeps dorm style in Nice, France, the furthest place from “real” France. “It’s like you decide you want to live in America, and you move to Las Vegas. It’s not real.”

We talked about the how the world is small and how everyone is stressed. Everyone is mad at their governments, everyone has the same needs. Every place is the same people, same cares, different tourist attractions. We talked about the Occupy movement. We talked about the difference between building a career and building a life.

We talked about the different points in our lives we’re at. He said, “I can’t afford to waste time anymore.” He says I’m not like most California girls that come through the hostel, and we make fun of the four girls at the hostel bar last night who sat there stirring their drinks and making eyes at the bartender all night. Granted, bartender is cute. I bought dinner from him and walked to my respective table across the room. Bartender then offered to wash my dishes for me, not the typical hostel way. I think he was relieved I wasn’t sitting there making him entertain.

My new friend’s shift at the hostel isn’t over, but his work is already done. He’d come to clean my room as a favor to a coworker. It’s an hour later, and we’re still sitting on bottom bunk beds chatting.

“And there’s this girl.”

This conversation is about to take a fun, less serious turn.

He tells me she works at a coffee shop he goes to often.

Okay, really fun turn. Anyone who knows me knows I spent Summer 2011: Part One hoping the boy at the coffee shop downstairs would know my name, and Part Two not paying for coffee… Among other, way better things as well.

He says he’s afraid to get attached. He’s too logical. All head, not heart, but he feels differently about her, more than any way he’s ever felt. She stuns him. She leaves him “speechless.”

“But she’s leaving town.”

Where?

“She’s going on her own tour of Europe… Or the world, or something.”

When?

“Two months.”

Two months?!? Friend, you can do a lot in two months. That’s plenty of time. You’ve at least got to have a first date!

“I know! That’s my problem, isn’t it? Why am I not allowing this to happen? For all I know, I could be rejected, but it could be two months of bliss. Even if it’s just those two months.”

Exactly! You never know what’ll happen. You might even end up on the Def Leppard guest list.

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True story. Top ten best nights of my life, easy.

“So what do you think I should do? I should ask her out, right? I should. I’m going to. I’m going to. Life is too short.”

I’m beaming. I’m basically knees to my chin, arms around my knees glee-filled. This makes me happy.

That decided, I packed my bag for Monaco and he remade the beds.

The entire time we were talking, his coworkers thought we were hooking up.

Couldn’t be further from the truth.

Only after a jog to it, I caught the 12:53 to Monte Carlo. Oh the luxury, the glamour, the beauty… The money! All I did was walk and climb hills, walk down hills, climb other ones.

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I’d gone to Monaco without a map. I’d left the train station and walked neighborhood streets downhill for quite awhile.

So, train station is up. That’s as far as I know.

I got myself super lost. I found a place called “Villa de las Garages” and that’s exactly what it looked like.

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I was way up high and I wasn’t seeing a train station. I was seeing a setting sun and neighborhood streets that led to darker neighborhood streets.

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I finally walked into a little hotel and asked the way to the train station. She laughed at me. I was 150m away from it. Above it.

I’d climbed the hill too dang high.

On the way out of the Nice Ville train station, a really tall guy said something to me, I apologized for not speaking French, he asked where I was from and then said “American, there is no oil here.”

It made me laugh. Ali is originally from Mali, has family in Morocco and lives in Nice playing reggae music. I told him I went to Morocco in 2009 and he said “Oh you travel a lot. That is why you are a good communicator.”

And at the stoplight, we two-cheek kissed goodbye and that was the end of my three-minute friendship with Ali.

Just talk to people. Everyone go make a new friend. Now.

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That Time I Accidentally Ended Up On A Date In Nice, France.

In Florence, I met a boy at the hostel who had been CouchSurfing throughout Europe. He was telling me all his amazing experiences with locals, how his goal was to leave Italy knowing how to make the perfect spaghetti carbonara and how three Italians so far had given him recipes and cooked with him. He said I was missing out.

I knew that all along. My interaction with new people is most hours of everyday, but this trip lacks interaction with locals. I try by leaving the tourist areas, eating in the local restaurants, striking up conversations in stores… It’s not enough and I’m sure some could easily criticize my trip for that reason.

I’m okay with that. In Pisa, Italy, I made a best friend who is Polish and lives in Dublin. She doesn’t have to be Italian in Italy for it to count as new to me. Barbara, 31, nannies for a living. She couldn’t get vacation at the same time as her friends, so she is traveling by herself for six days. She kept using the word “impressed” when she heard about my trip, and she said her friends and family were so worried about her. “You’re going to a country you don’t know, with a language you don’t know…” and by the end of our time together (dinner, breakfast and then train station coffees before parting) she said repeatedly, “I’m going to do it.” She has always wanted to go to Prague, Spain and Portugal, and now she will as vacation allows over the next couple years. “I’m going to do it.”

Well, nothing makes me happier than that.

I felt bad leaving Italy as fast as I did, but I really wanted to move on to France. Italy is beautiful, it absolutely is, but it has never held the magic for me that it does for 90% of tourists. Prague was magical. I want to return to Berlin. I always love Spain. But I’m okay leaving Italy… I can’t pin why that is.

Oh but I’m so happy in Nice, France. So, so happy. My hostel, 18€ a night, is three blocks from the beach. This was my morning.

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So happy. I climbed 400 steps by noon, too, so Nice is good for climbing. I’m staying in Nice for awhile. There will be day trips to Cannes and Monaco.

But thats not why you clicked on this blog. You want to know about the accidental date.

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The afternoon was gorgeous. I spent an hour walking along the promenade, past expensive shops, gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels. I ended up back on the beach.

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It’s only 3:30p.m., I can’t spend money, I have free time and I’m bookless. While waiting for the superglue on my sandals to dry, I sit on the beach and play with shadows, exposure, color settings, sun and silhouettes. I’d rather never use myself as the subject but the only other options at the time were men in underwear. Silhouettes you don’t want me capturing.

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I’m playing because it’s free time that doesn’t cost a penny. Multiple shots made me look like the weirdest Great Sphinx. If this playing didn’t have a story to go along, it wouldn’t even get shared.

As I’m sitting on the pebbles messing around with camera tricks, an old, tan, skinny man arrived. He got in the water, just his feet because he was wearing rolled-up jeans, then laid down near me. About four feet away. Mind you, it’s a coast in mid-November. There is plenty of space.

And then he started masturbating.

Oh, I kid you all not, I could not get away fast enough.

I dropped my stuff elsewhere far down the beach, had a conversation with a lovely woman originally from Mannheim, Germany, played with my camera some more. A new friend, Sefan arrived, asked if he could sit. He offered me a cigarette (I declined).

He hasn’t spoken English in over a year, but you’d never know. He and I argue, he insists California must be nicer than Nice. He tells me people from the west side (of the States) are good-minded, sociable people. He thinks the east side are most complicated. We bond over liking the same music. He really likes Ray Charles, too. He tell me I should come to his town for dinner tomorrow, I hedge discussing that offer. We talk about travel and jobs. We exchange contact information, should that dinner happen (probably not…) and I know from his email address his birth year is probably 1980.

He asks if I want to get a drink or something. He says the word coffee and I’m immediately more comfortable with coffee as opposed to alcohol or dinner together. I say okay. It’s only 4p.m.

On our way to the cafe, we continue talking music. We both like Michael Jackson, except he doesn’t know P.Y.T. and asks me to sing a few lines. Oh, why not.

Crossing a major intersection, I run into Clinton and Sally, my favorite Australians from last night. We catch up quickly before I apologize and say I can’t keep Sefan (already across the street) waiting. “It’sJustCoffeeItsNotADate” escapes my mouth, like they care at all? Clinton said I’m doing exactly what I should be doing.

Sefan’s parents are from Tunisia, and in the next hour, I learned more about the Tunisian culture, politics, revolution and traditions than I ever, ever would have imagined. And it really was fascinating – his focus on relationships with your parents, how women are paid for five hours what men are paid for seven (that might not be a statistical fact, more just a societal custom)… How his last relationship, the girl cheated on him with his best friend and he caught it with his own eyes. He says he doesn’t mean to talk about bad things, and it really was just a moment of bringing it up. He says “I think too many people try to make things work when they know it is not correct. I think either everybody knows it is correct, or it is nothing at all.”

He follows this story by asking if all American girls smile all the time. He told me my smile makes him happy and that’s why he had to sit down next to me on the beach, because he didn’t know why it made him happy.

Aw… Ha… Ha… Let’s talk about correct. If my friend asks me why I smile all the time, it’s going to put a huge damper on his excitement for this coffee date.

Also, yes, it was just implied I sit on empty public beaches grinning like a goober to myself.

It was a lovely time. We exchanged contact information but I probably won’t be seeing him again, although in this small world, who knows. My Milan hostel roommate of one night and I ran into each other in Pisa yesterday. But I won’t be joining him for a bus ride to his town tomorrow…

How awkwardly great is this picture, though.

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Every day is an adventure.

Traveling Solo… but Never Alone.

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On the train into Nice, France, I met Clinton and Sally, an Australian husband and wife with daughters Olivia and Genevieve, who despite being eight and ten were essentially the Australian Olsen twins. Great, great family traveling for four months – a week in Prague, three in Nice, one in Paris, three throughout Italy, seven in South America… You know, your typical childhood experience.

Sally: “How has your experience with hostels been?”

Me: “You know, they are great. Really clean, friendly, safe, fun… Always way better than when I have had to pay for a one or two star hotel. I haven’t had a bad experience. Generally safe, I’m never stupid but if there are limited outlets while I’m home, I feel fine leaving my camera charging on the bed while I go get lunch or something. Of course, that sounds fine until I have to tell my parents the camera got stolen off the bed.”

Clinton: “Well that’s when you make up a great story.” And then he starts one.

The next few minutes, the three of us:

I was walking down the street

when out of nowhere

I saw this bear!

It was a really big bear

And I thought

What the hell is a bear doing in Paris?

Because bears don’t speak French

And I was in such shock

He grabbed all my stuff

And I was so impressed

Because as he walked down the street

He turned around and was taking pictures of me with my camera

Which was even more impressive

Because he was doing it one handed

and holding my giant blue umbrella in the other

Which he then used to fly away

And that’s when I knew

I should have known by the purse

That I just got robbed by Beary Poppins.