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Freewheeling: Derailed in North Africa

  • Also available as: E-Book, Dust Jacket Hardcover
  • Published: September 2015
  • Format: Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
  • Pages: 106
  • Size: 6x9
  • ISBN: 9781503598508
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The adventures of the two vagabonds on bikes, Pike and Emery, which had started in Italy, continue here as the two now enter North Africa on the ferry boat the Carducci. “Careening gulls followed the boat in to the port of la Goulette, where Arab dock workers in turbans and brown cossack’s robes, (woolen djellabas), loaded cargo boats with carpets, iron, fruits, and olives with the help of huge, hulking, grimy, twisted, rusted cranes. In contrast to the slow moving turbaned stevedores, the two port officials who greeted Pike and Emery where the boat’s unloading platform met Tunisia’s soil were nattily dressed, speedily and efficiently checking and stamping their passports. “Then the two rolled out of La Goulette onto the Tunisian causeway over the Lake of Tunis – where pink flamingos stood on high stilt legs in shallow waters. They went into the heart of the city, the souks of the medina. Souk – or suuq – was the Arab name for market. Medina was the Arab name for town. The Medina was a beguiling maze of winding, narrow lanes of shops and stalls – souks – displaying dazzling arrays of wares. There were weaver souks, and souks of rug-makers, potters, goldsmiths, silversmiths, coppersmiths, tinsmiths, sandal makers, trinket sellers, and on and on. Old men in red felt hats called chechias were bent over sewing machines in the souk of the clothiers. In the Souk de la Laine were weavers; in the Souk des Orféurs were goldsmiths; and so on.” It isn’t long before the two encounter emptiness, vastness, and strange encounters, camping out in one or another lonely roadside field, the full moon beaming overhead in the night, “outrageously luminous.” “It doesn’t matter where we are,” Pike whispers at one point, nervously, "so long as we don’t wake up in the middle of the night, robbed of our papers and severed limb from limb." They put in long days of churning, arriving at dusk one day “at a small straw-and-mud hut that the two of them barely fit inside. They left their bikes and gear outside, leaning on the hut, and threw in their sleeping bags. Exhausted, they turned in for the night. The dawn came up yellow, like melting butter – smooth. The sun, an amber globe as it rose from the horizon, soon paled, ascending into the silver cloud cover. While the two sentient early risers gazed on this scene, they were shocked by the sudden appearance of a sneering, frowning, angry human face. Behind that face there then appeared an even more startling, accusing visage, peering down on them. The two youths wore gray and brown hooded djellabas. They began talking both at once, yelling at the intruders, Pike and Emery. Pike looked white as a sheet, pulling on his jeans. He pulled his jacket over him as he went out. He had his hands thrust deep in his coat pockets. Emery felt sure all was lost. Pike was arguing with them. “Five minutes went by before Pike turned back into the hut to tell Emery what was happening. ‘They want four dinar,’ Pike informed Emery, turning purple in the face. ‘This is a hotel, they are telling me. We have stayed overnight in their hotel and now they request payment for their services. They just want blue jeans,’ Pike said, rolling his eyes. ‘I told them we don’t have any blue jeans.’ Pike and Emery paid their hotel bill with overalls. While Pike and Emery picked up the strewn litter of their remaining valuables and packed, the keepers tried on their new outfits. They were so happy with the overalls, they boldly invited Pike and Emery to stay longer at the hotel – honored guests – a second night. Smiling pleasantly, Pike declined, pushing off toward the road. Emery followed.”

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