Tag Archives: people

BART or The Significance of Public Transport

Sleeping faces
Nose-in-a-book faces
Enchanted by smartphone faces
Hidden-by-sunglasses faces
Laughing faces
Straight faces
Pale faces
Dark faces
Multicultural faces
Animated faces
Faces in repose
Faces in love
Profiles of faces
Children’s faces
Teen faces
Adult faces
A beautiful face directly across from me
Smooth and youthful faces
Pockmarked and wrinkled faces
Bearded faces
Clean-shaven faces
A tattooed face
Inquisitive faces
Concentrating faces
Looking and questioning faces
Apologetic faces
Weary faces
Calm faces
Sunlight through the windows on all of their faces faces

There’s an orange peel under one of the seats
And this train is hurtling along at incredible speed.

47

Wednesday, 05/03

Woke up to sunlight streaming in through curtains that wouldn’t close. Fell back asleep for a couple hours. Woke up later to hammering and a throwing around of what sounded like weights on the roof. I’m only here because I couldn’t find the home of the woman who invited me to camp on her property. By the time I had cycled an additional eight or nine miles in search of this mysterious land it was dark and nearly nine o’clock. The motel sign shown like a beacon of dollar bills raised high aflame, and drew my exhausted, lazy self to it like a moth. I was photographing for a few short seconds in my room though when the camera battery died, so I guess this was a good thing—I suppose I say that as a way of justification, though I don’t need to.


These places all serve the same continental breakfast: cereals, waffle maker, bad coffee, bad juice, bad biscuits, bad gravy, bad pastries, bad bread, bad…. Here, there are two pieces of sausage left that look just like two little dog turds, like someone’s little chihuahua took a squat right over the pan while no one was looking. The juices in the pitchers taste nothing like their respective labels. Two women are rearranging the breakfast bar. I feel like telling them to stop wasting their time, that rearranging the display won’t make the food or drink palatable, or look more appealing.

While I’m sitting here a huge, dark-skinned girl walks in to fill out an application. She’s wearing black and white basketball shorts, black hi-tops, and a black button-down shirt that doesn’t fit her. I feel pity and sadness for her. Not necessarily because she’s applying to work here, but because she appears so tired and down-trodden, because she likely knows nothing of the wider world, and is likely not well-educated, like she’s living in a world where every move she makes is one made out of desperation because she sees no future for herself, and, worst of all, sees no present and has no idea how to fix this except to get a job, to create an income, to create some semblance of stability in her life, but she’s not even sure if this is right, and this is what most everyone is doing, and yet no one seems to see that stability is an illusion, that we all stride upon shifting, slippery, rocky ground, some perhaps more so than others, but what really matters is that one knows that, and moves forward anyway, for there is no rock face that isn’t crumbling, no plains that aren’t susceptible to drought, no forest fire-retardant, and no lake immune to pollution.

After sitting at a table in a corner, filling out an application, the girl turns it in to the ladies—who are still playing with the breakfast display—and slowly shuffles from the hotel like a despondent elephant too tired to lift its feet, and tied with a heavy, thick rope to a colossal sandstone block which she pulls behind her at the bidding of some cruel, unidentifiable master who stands atop it whip in hand.

43

After about 50km I stop at a gas station to refill my water bottles, wash my face, and take a pee. As soon as I walk into this place that is so much more than just a gas station I am assaulted by the odor of deep-fried everything. There is also a grey haze hovering languidly, like the droopy-eyed gaze of the man in a chair in the dining area, in what one would expect to be relatively clean, relatively fresh air. The whole… I don’t even know what to call this place—gas station-cum-deli-cum-burger/pizza/taco joint-cum-convenience/hardware store—is full of smoke. I think I’m the only one to notice this.

I’m continuing to look around and observe what all is going on here, what all is contained within these smoke-filled walls. I notice a rack of t-shirts in a corner, and with them stacks of sombreros. In another room, kind of off to the side is a pool table. An old black and white western flick is showing on a flat-screen television near the entrance. A middle-aged man with an enormous gut is slumped down in a chair at a cheap, wooden table watching it while he plays with his phone.

I wash my face, and find a room down the hall where the bathrooms are that has a tanning bed confined within. I take a few pictures, none of which are satisfactory. I walk back into the main room. The haze hasn’t lessened. I’m looking for some sort of real food. Something that’s not deep-fried, or from the numerous Tyson™ CAFOs I’ve passed on my way here, or in a can, bag, or plastic wrapper. In short I’m looking for a fruit or a vegetable, one that hasn’t been processed into anything, but there’s not even a single apple or banana in the dump. This, I think to myself, is the American Dream. This is the greatest achievement of the Westward Expansion, the Industrial Revolution, and all the technologies that have come since. This is what people slave their lives away for: to come into and shop at a dirty, smelly convenience store where one may purchase a hammer, a box of nails, a roll of duct tape, several cans of tuna, a loaf of Wonderbread™, some yellow mustard, a jar of mayonnaise, a jar of Cheez Whiz™, a hat to shade the sun from his eyes while he’s driving his Big Truck, a bottle of Coke™, several packets of ramen, a case of beer, two slices of pizza (or maybe some chicken tenders instead), sides of fried okra and baked beans, and a Snickers™ bar for dessert. And don’t forget the motor oil to wash it all down to keep things running smoothly.

To think that it’s taken me weeks traveling on a bicycle to finally arrive here, at this particular intersection, on this particular road in Arkansas, to at last discover this great pinnacle of human productivity. I’m so thunderstruck that I think perhaps I should just turn around and go home, or maybe I should just stop everything right here, right now, and roll out my sleeping bag on the floor because I would never have to leave, or be in want of anything ever again.

38

Camping, unbothered, hopefully, in Hazen, AR., another one of those small towns with little more than a single main street running straight through its heart, on one side of which is nothing, and on the other side of which is really nothing. Well, there are a series of brick buildings, inside one of which is an antique store, but everything else is vacant. I found a lovely spot for my tent—a grass plot with a few small trees situated between two old buildings, one of which being the aforementioned antique store. It is much less obvious than many a camping spot I’ve chosen, I must say.

I’m setup alongside one of the buildings, beneath a Mulberry tree which, fortunately or unfortunately, is laden with berries that are not yet ripe. I say fortunately because they won’t be dropping and making a mess all over the ground and my tent, but unfortunately because they’re not available yet to be eaten.

Earlier, upon arriving in town, after observing what there was around me, and taking a few pictures of whatever happened to catch my interest up and down the main thoroughfare, I found my way to a small grocery and picked up some fruit as well as extra veggies for my lentil & rice dinner. After leaving, and about to be on my way to find an appropriate spot to camp—where I am now writing this— I was approached by a young man who was curious about my rig—he, actually, unlike many, had some idea of what I was doing, as he himself was interested in doing something similar. This boy and I got to talking when his friend came out and joined our conversation. To make a short, uninteresting story even shorter, I may have two new blog readers, but, perhaps more importantly, they gave me something like two quarts of water when I mentioned that was next on my to-do list. Very grateful to them for their generosity and the pleasant conversation.


This morning I’ve decided to eat at the only diner in town. They like to call themselves a cafe but the coffee is the worst thing here. Mainly it tastes like it was brewed through a mildewed sock, and the packets of non-dairy creamer (one actually has to request half and half) and sugar don’t in any way improve it. It is only $.91, though. Ninety-one cents! Free refills to boot, though why anyone would want a second cup, let alone a third or fourth, is beyond my understanding. Even at that price, and with the refills it’s still overpriced. At least the food is somewhat palatable, though everything tastes a bit like it was cooked on a greasy, dirty griddle, and is obviously of low quality, probably trucked in from a warehouse somewhere.

At the table behind me sits an ancient man. He’s only just toddled in a moment ago. He is trying to say something to his waitress about an employee who offered to pay for his meal on a previous occasion, however, he doesn’t know her name, and he is having an awful problem attempting to spit out what it is he is trying to communicate to the girl. His way of talking is a combination mumble and stutter. He sounds as though he’s had a topical anesthetic applied to his tongue and lips, and so is incapable of moving them in any coordinated action, thus making it impossible to give voice to his request that would seem likely to go unheeded perhaps, anyway. His voice and way of speaking sound a bit like a tumble of rocks bounding down a slope of loose scree—each individual sound of rock hitting rock melded together to create one, single, indecipherable sound.

This is a diner full of locals, all come together at one place—this tiny, no-account town, like so many others of its kind, could only support one place like this. Many of them come and go singly, yet sit at various tables joining friends who are already seated. I like that. The men are all bearded or mustached, and relatively progressed in age—I would estimate most of them to be in their sixties, though some, perhaps, are even older than that. The youngest I see here would have to be in his fifties. All are grossly overweight and mainly farmers I would guess, as that’s the predominant industry around these parts. “These parts,” being the Arkansas Delta, which, thank God, I am nearly free of, as it’s a flat and featureless area most known for growing rice, cotton and soy.

I like the relaxed, comforting, friendly, homey feel of the place, but deplore the low quality of food. Of course this isn’t the only small town in the nation serving bad food from ingredients that may have been grown here, but were then shipped elsewhere to be processed into a food item, then shipped back in a state that is supposedly fit for eating and requiring very little further processing, i.e., cooking, in order that they may be listed on a menu and served to hungry guests.

Finally, this old man, gripping his check in his bony paw, has meandered over, and is staring into the kitchen, irately inquiring about this mysterious woman who has offered to buy him a meal, but no one on staff seems to know to whom he might be referring. Neither does anyone seem to know what to make of this man, nor what to do about the issue. There doesn’t seem to be a manager in.

33

Camping at my first church since I was in North Carolina.

Many miles today. Miles through bleak suburbs choked with strip malls, empty parking lots, bad traffic, bad shoulders, familiarity and despair. Miles through farmland; wide, open spaces; countless cows grazing the lush, green pastures that are everywhere speckled with flowers—purple, waxy-yellow, and chalky-white—like a million smiling faces, and, when the wind blows, a million waving hands like those from the friendly drivers who pass me opposite; the wire fences; copses of trees; the grey clouds bunched, bulging, heavy with rain that never falls, stretching on forever all day. Miles, though fewer, through the cityscape of Selma, her streets and buildings saturated in civil rights history; boarded up houses; nice, clean, proud houses with neat landscaped yards; empty buildings; broken windows; no doors; amicableness; amiableness; junk cars; the criss-cross of railroad tracks; the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the blood flowed one day like the river runs beneath it; marvelous architecture; and damn good ribs. I also saw a banner, on it the word HOPE. More and more large towns and small cities I see today are full of hope, and desire change. Call it “the people.” They are the hope. The people are the ones, the only ones, who have the capability to turn around a city’s fortunes, and they must turn it around, because if not, then what does this word, “hope” mean, what is it for, and what does it represent? It is like a false idol which one worships, makes offerings to on every first and third Sunday, and second and fourth Wednesday. It is a place where the people might get together to sprinkle water, light incense, and talk. Talk, talk, talk; and talk is just masturbation. There is a sprinkling of seed, sure, but no fertile ground for it to settle, fertilize and grow. It brings forth no fruit, bears no children. It merely feels pleasant for a short while. It is a drug. And an addictive one at that because it requires a minimum of effort and no commitment. It is a mouth that talks, yet has no voice.

Where there are people there is hope. But where there are people there is, too, complacency.
 


 
A bug shimmers under my light, wings and carapace glinting. It flies ever so lightly, so gently, into the mesh door of my tent — bounces away into the dark. God, what magic this world contains. Magic on the minutest scale. It is not necessary that there be large explosions and a shower of sparks, though that is fine too. There is magic right under our noses. The real magic is in the looking.

27

Left Savannah late, Monday, about one p.m. Breakie, final conversation with Alex, an espresso at Perc, back to the apartment to finish packing, hungry again, off to Zunzi’s for a last Boerewors, then, finally, the departure. Utterly ridiculous, but it also would have been very easy to stay in the city longer.

Pretty hot, sunny day. Cloudless, mostly windless, bright and blue. Pedaling west I’m on a mild incline as I move away from the coast. Easy hills rolling along effortlessly. About sixty miles to my hosts’ place, unless my GPS is off. If it’s not then Google is off. Or my math is off. A few interesting photo opportunities, but generally a dull ride.

Was thrilled to have stayed the night with Jerry and Shirley. She washed out my water bottles, and now one smells and tastes like soap. The water in it, that is. But if that’s the worst thing one can say about a person’s hospitality that’s not too bad.

They feasted me at dinner, and breakfast the next morning. Strawberry shortcake for dessert after a tour of the grounds. They run a pecan farm, and the land they live on, and many more acres besides, was deeded to the family after the Revolutionary War, so this land has been in the family for a few generations. Jerry and I drove the circumference of his property in a small tractor he uses for getting around the grounds. There are a couple of ponds and a large thicket of woods where one might discover all variety of wild animals. The sun had sunk just below the horizon as we left, just beyond the crepuscular minutes when the sky is faintly aglow, the horizon awash in a veritable rainbow of colors, so the shadows were deep and black as pitch most areas, and the insects that were out, of which they were in incalculable numbers, swarmed the flood light installed on the roof of the tractor and sometimes found their way onto my exposed arms, legs, face… We talked about the harvesting of pecans—these trees are enormous—and inspected a few saplings (if that’s even an appropriate term to use) which looked like mere sticks, about a man’s height, in the damp earth—not a single branch, and barely a bud on these. Very peculiar.

In addition to the pecan farming Jerry makes leaded glass windows, or, more accurately, came glass windows, as a hobby. He’s also an impressive story-teller and master of trivia, particularly if it involves Alaska, or the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

All together they make for an impressive, inspiring partnership—in their hospitality, which is unrivaled, I think; their acceptance immediately of guests; their warm personalities; and the bicycling feats they’ve accomplished together, to say nothing of those by Jerry alone.

I’ve been writing all this at Mac’s, my WarmShowers host for the evening. I’m sitting poolside, the sun stretched taut across my back. Mac’s just come back from picking up his bike at the shop and is moseying about his property cleaning up this, trimming that. His daughter’s wee pup, Buttercup, who he’s watching over while she is in Madrid for the next couple of years, is tip-toeing around the lawn, following after him. The pool water is crystal clear and shaped like a kidney bean. There’s a wide spread palm tree over by the diving board that looks a bit the worse for wear—like it was transported here from a desert in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Tall, faded green fronds, some looking a bit fried at their tips, spreading out from a central trunk, and then drooping down sort of melancholy-like, as if it was exhausted from standing under the hot sun hour after hour, day after day. There’s some kind of Warbler I can’t identify because I don’t have my binoculars with me, calling from a tree nearby. The only sounds are bird calls, and the distant highway.

Today was an easy, short day—a mere thirty miles—but those few miles are worth it to be staying here, and to be enjoying the comforts of Mac’s home for longer than I would otherwise. Jerry left with me this morning and probably taught me a bit of patience, as he moved at what for me was a glacial pace. The ride was fairly relaxing I found, and a bit refreshing. And we still did the thirty miles by noon. This is something I should learn if I’m to enjoy this trip more. He treated me to an impressively delicious lunch at Hardware Pizza in Lyons, and then turned around to head back home.

26

“When you come to Savannah you going to have a good time,” sings the man in the park, as he folds his palm fronds, on a bench, beneath a tree.

I have concluded that he is correct.

Spent the day strolling around rather aimlessly. As perfect a day as there could be for it: sunny, cloudless sky, warm, dry, a bit windy, though pleasantly so for walking. I stop to read a sign in the square where the man is singing and folding his palm fronds. It is a plaque to commemorate the life of Tomo Chi-Chi, a member of the Creek Indian Nation. According to the sign post, he helped the English in the founding and settlement of Georgia, and was an “indispensable friend” to them. In return he received a thirty foot tall burial marker and an historical signpost recognizing this “indispensable friendship.” Since then, the Natives have been massacred, had their land stolen from them, and been pushed onto reservations. To borrow a well used cliché, he would be rolling over in his grave if he knew the atrocities committed against his people since his death.

I’m sitting on the cathedral steps writing these words and thinking of the atrocities the church has committed in its time—from The Crusades, to the KKK, and to certain discriminatory legislative measures passed in some states very recently. I’m thinking of the atrocities that continue around the world in the name of whatever religion, or by whatever government. The whole past of humanity is steeped in violence and bloodshed. Thousands of years of it, and thousands more to come, unless we blow ourselves to ashes before then.

Just now a couple walks up the steps and the husband curses reading the sign, “NO TOURING. WORSHIP IN PROGRESS.” Yes, you ignorant halfwit, the cathedral, while being quite old, is still a cathedral, which means that services may still be held there despite its status as historical landmark. It is something more than just a name to cross off your list of “Things To Do In Savannah.” It has a life of its own. There is a community that circulates in and around and through it, like blood beating in a heart, surging through vein and artery. Just because you are not a part of it, that you are a particle foreign to the stream of bodies regular to it, does not mean that it does not exist, or not take place. Come back tomorrow, or don’t come back at all. The cathedral will still stand, indifferent, unyielding, its people still coming and going, and, likely, other tourists coming and going as well, AT THE ASSIGNED TIMES. But, the cathedral, the cathedral sees you and laughs. A knowing chuckle.

Cycling back to Alex’s, I stop at Forsyth Park to stretch out in the grass, read a bit, watch the people there—some tanning, some napping, some reading, most conversing in groups, some playing frisbee, one girl playing with a bubble wand, many sitting on benches, many more in the grass, and the consistent traversal of so many more along the central artery that bisects the park and connects Gaston Street and Park Avenue at either end. A jovial scene, with the sun shining, the grass green, the temperature fine. A fitting way to end the day’s wanders, by not wandering at all, but just sitting still, reveling in the atmosphere around me. Peace can be easy to find, when you stop looking.

21 (or 4b)

Camped behind a church again. Knocked on all the doors when I arrived, about 6:30—no answer. Actually, the first thing I did was gratefully refill my water bottles at the drinking fountain on the property, and sent up a little prayer on a wee birdie for that. Somehow or another, and for reasons I will perhaps never fathom, I am always provided for, whatever the  circumstances.

I setup my tent and began to organize my things after poking around looking for a reasonably concealed spot from the road. I hear a car pull up. A man gets out, maybe my age, maybe slightly older. Turns out he’s the pastor. Doesn’t really seem to know what to make of me and my gear—the tent being setup as it was, and my bicycle and trailer leaning against the church—but we chat for a bit. I explain what I’m doing, why I’m there and the like. He seemed okay with it and said things should be fine unless I hear from him later. He then invited me to take part in the prayer meeting that he was there to preside over.

After he went inside I continued the organization of my living space, and rather dawdled over it, to be honest, while considering his invitation. On the one hand I was curious to meet the people of the community, but on the other I hadn’t participated in anything church related in some years, and was rather nervous about that being as it was a group of people gathering at a rural, baptist church. How might they react to my interpretations, or the fact that I haven’t been to a church function in years, or that I find Taoist and Zen “philosophy” more relatable currently, or that most religions seem to me to be at heart essentially the same, that we are all one people, one planet, one universe together? Perhaps a more secular gathering would have been more to my liking—something not involving scripture reading and interpretation, but, instead, simply, “Hello. How are you? Isn’t life marvelous? I think it is. It is just so marvelous that one can even pedal a heavily loaded bicycle around, and around, and around for no particular reason at all but just to do it. It is completely meaningless, and yet, so meaningful that a person has no words to put that meaning in! It is just like a thunderclap.” Anyway, by the time I was nearing a decision, and had finally organized all my things the meeting had already been going on for twenty or thirty minutes, and so I really thought it best not to intrude. Here now I sit in my humble tent, writing down what has just transpired over these last sixty minutes or so.

 

Today was another day of headwinds. Despite the relatively flat ground I was only able to accomplish forty-five miles.

I’ve been thinking much these three days (there’s little else to do besides that and curse the wind) and I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps my temperament is not suited to this activity, this way of cycling, this way of traveling. Yes, I want speed, but I also am considering that I am much to ADD, to not be at all PC. Two hours and I’m done. I want to do something else. I want to go to sleep. I want to throw a frisbee. I want to take a leisurely walk down to the park. I want to sit at the end of a pier, my legs dangling over, toes just barely brushing the surface of the water, and watch the gulls glide overhead, and the ducks paddle about, quacking at each other in their endearing way, and be happy when the wind comes and throws my hair, and watch the sun set beyond the trees in such satisfaction that I could die at that moment with the knowledge that I have seen all that this world has to offer and if there is something more compelling, something else that existence has hidden up its proverbial sleeve that I can’t for the life of me imagine would that could posbily be. But there remains three, four, five more hours to go….

I love the talking to people, the shortest of conversations, sometimes, yet the most joyful moments to break up the routine of revolution after revolution: the two black girls at the Subway in Bladenboro with there effusive excitement that was like little children with their sparklers spinning round and round in the dark, asking me questions and the amazement at my replies, and ogling my bike with its bags and trailer; the waitress at Ivy’s Cafe, in Whiteville (really!?); the two boys I just talked to from the previously mentioned prayer meeting, packing their lips with tobacco, who told me an interesting story, two vignettes of the history of this area of The South, how blacks sixty or seventy years ago here, just outside Tabor City, and in Clarendon where I had passed through just two or three hours ago, if they were to cross the tracks that ran north and south just twenty yards from here after dark would be shot dead by white men with shotguns just sitting in chairs watching and waiting; how Tabor City once had the nickname “Razor City,” due to all the knife fights and brawls that would occur outside many a bar; and how could I forget Larry from Tar Heel who, when I stopped to chat with him while he was picking up litter on his property, told me how there once was a race that would come along this very road—thousands of cyclists, and sometimes you’d see a hundred at a time swarm past, but that that hasn’t occurred in a good long while—and he warned me about the drivers in the area, about how reckless they are, and sometimes when he would be out mowing his lawn on his tractor these crazy, mad drivers would go speeding past so closely that “it felt like the wind just brushing up against ya.” Amazing! How can a man put such a simple sentiment in such a poetic way, I wonder? How?

All these people, sometimes I think they are as sustaining to me as the dinner I cook in the evening and the breakfast I make in the morning, that’s not to mention all the snacks in between. Perhaps they are.

20 (or 3b)

I forget everything. And I can’t get this tent setup properly to save my life. I am in a large field adjacent to a middle school, and the sun is setting. Things might almost be pleasant if I knew what I was doing with this guyline and the wind wasn’t whipping the tent fabric all over the place. I am a dingus and a numbskull.

Last night I noticed that my sleeping pad had developed a leak. I don’t know when or how that happened because it was working fine the last time I used it. I’m still insulated from the ground, though. I’m just not padded at all. I’m so exhausted by the end of a day that it makes no difference, though I do find myself waking up after some hours attempting to get more comfortable. The end result is a simultaneously fitful yet restful night of sleep. My life is full of contradictions it seems.

I left one of my bidons (basically a cyclist’s water bottle) in the church bathroom this morning when I decided to add an addendum to a thank-you note I left for the pastor or whomever. The space where the missing bidon should have been wasn’t discovered until thirty or more minutes into today’s ride when I thought I might like to stop and take a photo of three statues in a cemetery surrounded by little but a flat plane of grass. The statues were white, of course, and looked slightly out of place, lost, like they had just wandered onto this green field and then made the decision to stop for a while. There was, in addition to this confusion of purpose, of being lost, a monumentality to them; for many yards around them nothing stood high than a blade of grass but for a single bouquet of flowers placed in front of the trio as if placed there in homage—a sign of love and respect.

Besides leaving things (I am now paranoid that I’m going to leave my camera, phone, or wallet somewhere) the theme of the last two days has been headwinds—every cyclists bane. Generally constant, wavering only slightly, consistent in its push, or, those times when it quiets and then quickly roars to life again the feeling is one of being lassoed and yanked backwards. Besides being a physical drain, and an impediment of momentum and speed, it is a psychological drain. Perhaps this is because I set daily goals. I don’t think so, though, but there is too much uncertainty to be able to say for sure since I haven’t had a day without wanting to reach a specified place, or achieve a certain vague number of miles. I want to get to Charleston as quickly as possible. That has been my main motivation thus far. Once I arrive there this motivation will dissolve. I don’t see myself setting more similar goals, though one can never say for certain—it may be necessary farther west.

 

I met Omar while cycling around Fayettville looking for his shop, Walker’s Cafe. It’s a hookah bar, but they also serve turkish coffee—something I’d never had. It was a Wednesday, mid-day. The place was barren of customers. Tables at low bench seats against the wall, arranged with one hookah each; low chairs opposite the benches. Dim lighting that might feel comfortable coming in from a sweltering summer afternoon, but seemed too dark—despondent almost—when entered from the superb weather that I was then enjoying. The bar was in the back. There was a selection of bottled beers on display at one end. The other end was open, and where it bent into an L there sat an espresso machine. Along the wall behind the bar was a selection of ibriks and several hot plates. Shisha and more hookahs on shelves. I told Omar, who greeted me as I entered the cafe, that I had read in an article in the Fayettville Observer that he served excellent turkish coffee, and that I had never had it before but had been curious about it for some time, and was excited to find a place that served it.

Talking further I explained that I was currently on a cycling trek around the country, and that I was only passing through Fayettville. At this he asked if he might join me at a table on the sidewalk out front, as it was a fine, sunny day, to find out more about myself and this trip of mine. I couldn’t very well say no (nor did I want to), and so it commenced. We talked about our lives, and how we came to be where we were.

He is originally from Turkey—Istanbul, precisely, but he has a smaller home elsewhere in the country with his wife. He used to captain sailboats, but is now obviously running the hookah bar. He was curious about my journey, and had the usual questions about why I was doing it and what all I carried with me, how I navigated, etc. Explained to me that he has plans to sail around the world one day. He estimates that in the next three to five years he will be able to start, and that the whole odyssey will take about five or six years to accomplish because he plans to stop and stay for a while in many places in order to more deeply experience its culture, environment, etc. I mentioned that I desired to do the same thing, only limiting my stay in particular areas to a couple or three days since I wasn’t trying to spend years traveling around the country.

I thought the coffee to be superb. In fact, it probably ranks somewhere around my top five favorite coffees ever. Whether that is due to the weather, the setting, the company—the context for the coffee—or that it was my first ever Turkish coffee, I can not say. I can only say that I savored every sip, and it will always be fondly remembered as one of my favorite coffee experiences.

He told me if I ever have a turkish coffee again to make sure the preparer allows the small bubbles that are proof of a proper brewing to form on the surface. If they are not there I should not accept it. Turkish coffee is typically served with a turkish delight—a small, chewy candy cube, somewhat similar to nougat, but less sticky and airier, that is dusted with coconut powder. If the coffee is found to be too bitter one can nibble a bit on the turkish delight to offset the bitterness some. My coffee came “medium sweet,” so there was some sugar added in the brewing process.

Having finished the coffee I thought it best to leave as I had a destination to make—that wonderful field in the town of Tar Heel. His was wonderful company to have for that half hour. If I’m ever in Fayettville again, unlikely as that may be, I will definitely return to Walker’s Cafe for the coffee, hopefully for the company, but also to smoke some hookah.