Breaking Away

This is an adventure in Europe, and especially in Spain and Morocco in 1964. The most recent chapters are posted at the top.

A Los Pinares Chapter 26

         Emilia had been talking from time to time about visiting the village outside of Madrid up in “los pinares,” the piney woods, where she had gone to school with the nuns. Our relationship had been so pure I didn’t think much about it except I remembered my roommate’s experience of those…

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Back to La Plaza de Santa Ana, Chapter 25

           On the Plaza de Santa Ana our expatriate buddies welcomed us back as heroes. Everybody was excited to sample the marijuana we had crossed the water to bring them. And one night it all came together in the home of an American beatnik who was married to a French woman. They had a nice…

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The Smuggle Chapter 24

          In this Muslim country the women stayed in and only the men socialized outside the home. Kief was not even illegal, maybe a slight misdemeanor. It was alcohol that was the forbidden fruit.           We made our business arrangements. The next evening, I was to ride on my motorcycle out into the country with…

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High Times with Bubba the Arab Chapter 23

            Morocco at that time was literally like stepping back into Biblical times. Crossing into Spain from the rest of Europe was like going back into time hundreds of years. This was like going back a thousand. Tetuan is in the desert by the Mediterranean. They manage to grow food with irrigation. At that…

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The Midnight Express Chapter 22 part 1

          Sebastiano was a good guy to travel with. Around me he didn’t display that crazy, manic side we saw so often back at the Plaza de Santa Ana. He knew I liked him for who he was and he didn’t have to be anything else. Lots of times people in restaurants would think we…

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A Very Close Call Chapter 21

            Just about the time we were out of the mountains and going through the last series of downhill turns we came to a short tunnel about two or three hundred feet long. This was ordinarily not a big deal except that it was black as coal in that tunnel. I can’t remember if…

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On the Road South Chapter 20

            On a cool early morning in June, we climbed on the Triumph and headed out of town getting a feeling for how this was going to go and how the bike would handle. A motorcycle is much different to drive and to brake with two big people on it. But it worked great.…

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Off to Morocco by Motorcycle Chapter 19

  One day Sebastiano met me and said, “How about going to Morocco?”           “In a car?” I said.           “No, the two of us on the bike.”           “Really? It’s okay with me,” I said.           “We can buy pot down there. It’s legal. And we’ll bring it back and sell it to the…

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Paco, Our Beloved Gangster Chapter 18

          Our expatriate crowd had a local godfather, a non-violent one named Paco. He was Mr. “Sportin’ Life” and a lot of fun. He had more money than the rest of the locals because of scams he controlled and he cultivated the expat crowd because one of the scams involved us. You would see Paco…

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The Germans Chapter 17

            Within the expatriate scene there were all kinds of people and cross currents. It was a moveable feast, in Hemingway’s words, a congregation, always changing but balanced and constant in its character because it had a center, La Plaza de Santa Ana, and because everyone was transient to one degree or another.          …

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El Cordobez Chapter 16

           During the time I was there Manuel El Cordobez was a rising star, more like a comet. He came from the poorest of the poor and learned to fight bulls as a youngster by jumping the fences at night on ranches where the bulls were raised, taking his chances with an old coat for…

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Emilia Chapter 15

          Her life wasn’t easy but, other than being tired occasionally, she never complained. And even though I am describing times we had together they didn’t come easily or often. It took a lot of work at the café for me to get her to commit to a meeting and sometimes a week or more…

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My Friends My Age, Kids Really Chapter 14

            Finally, word came that my luggage had arrived and I went to collect it at the main rail station. In a huge building I walked through giant rooms full of piles of luggage and my hopes collapsed thinking it could not be possible for my things to be found here. My guitar, a…

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The Bullfight Chapter 13

          The women, the men, the young and the old watched every fight during the big Feria de San Isidro in May. In the café they would say, “Ah look at the magnificence of the Spanish man. Every other man looks like nothing compared to him.” And Sebastiano would say, “That’s bullshit. These guys are…

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Sebastiano Chapter 12

            Sebastiano and his “Senora” became my close friends. Sebastiano was a tall, dark, handsome, Latin-lover guy to look at. He had black wavy hair, a goatee and a full set of perfect teeth. He was strong and could grip a stop sign and hold himself parallel to the road. He met Ruth in…

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The Expat Community Chapter 11

          My associations grew quickly until I knew most of the non-Spanish, English-speaking people who were in the neighborhood, about thirty people. Spain was so cheap and such a great place to be then. People I knew were students of flamenco and Spanish, dancers, writers, musicians, actors, and travelers. There was even an FBI informer…

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Living in Madrid, Settling In, Chapter 10

          I settled into my little pension, “La Salamanca.” And Aurelio showed me how the Madrilenos live. There were many coffee bars where, during the day, one would stand at the rail and drink a café con leche and in the evening, when people finished work at eight, these same places would fill to the…

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La Plaza de Santa Ana Chapter 9

             Romantics have a special feeling for the losers of that war and I did then and still do. All my trips to Spain have involved the contemplation of that war and the observation of its effects in the culture. But right now, I had to find the center of town. I got to…

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On to Madrid, Chapter 8

            As I headed south and began to pick up a hint of spring in the wind, I believed that my hard times were behind me and that new and good things were up ahead. Feeling good on the motorcycle, passing through the towns along the Bay of Bayonne and seeing spring flowers in…

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In Paris with No Money Chapter 7

          The rain stopped sometime in the night and a reasonable morning followed. After cleaning my bike and thanking the people at the hotel I headed for Paris with no money but with enough gas to get there. I had the address of a man Mark and I had met on the boat. That was…

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On the Road to France, Chapter 6

          Even Italy is cold in March and this was England. My leather jacket kept out the wind but my dungarees didn’t. There was no windscreen or fairing on that classic motorcycle I was beginning to love so much. I got as far as I could toward the English Channel before pulling into an inn…

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Lonely in London Chapter 5

            I had been living in a lonely room in a boarding house. I walked up five flights to get to it. In the two months I was there, I don’t remember seeing other tenants. There was a hot pan where I cooked lamb chops and a shilling meter for heat. It was cold…

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Crossing the Atlantic Chapter 4

In February of 1964, during a season of serious storms in the north Atlantic, we got on the SS America, and headed out of New York harbor for Liverpool in England. Our ship’s quarters were more like a locker than a room, miniscule, with four bunks and a sink. We were stuffed in there with…

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Things Changed with the President’s Death Chapter 3

          I don’t know how much that had to do with the next thing that happened in my life, maybe a lot. It shook things up, things that were not too solidly in place to begin with. In any case, there was malaise in me, a restlessness and dissatisfaction with the trajectory of my life…

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The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 2

          Back in boarding school where I had been cooped up learning academic skills, the book of the era was Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Like the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, I felt that the whole show was flawed and phony. Like him, I yearned to find out what was real and I was ready to…

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The Air Conditioned Nightmare Chapter 1

Dawn broke gray and silent on another dreary London day. A cold March rain hit my face and drizzled down my neck as I snuck past my landlady’s apartment and out the door and onto the street where my new Triumph motorcycle waited. I was ready for my escape. I was just nineteen years old…

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