Sunday, December 30, 2007

Napoli to Catania - At Sea heading south into the Med

M/n Partenope – Napoli to Catania

By Saigon Charlie

The ship’s engines are winding up as the deck under me begins to shake and the passenger level I have set up my quarters for the evening begins to vibrate. It is 21:00 and the first leg of my most recent sea journey into the Mediterranean is about to begin.

This leg will take me south out of the chaos of humanity that the Italians call ‘Napoli’ (Naples) to the eastern port city on the Sicilian coast called ‘Catania’. Rumor has it that it should take about 11 hours, give or take a wave or two and get us there on the morning the day before New Year’s Eve.

Not sure what awaits me near the ancient city of Sycracuse, but thus far, from Rome to Naples, I wasn’t sure if I was in African or Europe as at times I seemed to have stepped into a central African republic. In this morning’s IHT there was an article about the serious problems the Greeks were having with their islands and the immigration flood but based on what I have seen personally from the Canary Islands to Italy, everyone along the southern tier of Europe is becoming overwhelmed with the influx of humanity.

It was only a few days ago that once again the EU added another chunk including Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Baltic Republics and even the British speaking island of Malta. Cyprus also adopted the Euro but the immigration controls remain. (I also noted in the same week that the European Central Bank added another 500 billion dollars, but for what? To support this expansion or help slow the economic meltdown?)

Even though border and immigration controls are supposedly “ending’ and the frontiers expanding, based on the 3 passport controls I had on my train trip south out of Germany, two at one stop in Lugano by separate groups of police, the facts seem to be far different than the propaganda…and that was heading south! One can only wonder what it would be like on a night train heading north out of Italy.

As I continue to type these notes, a rolling motion commences and I am sure we have cleared the breakwater at the end of what is a very long quay. The mind numbing TV shows have stopped temporarily for a guide on how to rescue your butt should the ship start to sink. Hopefully there are no soccer matches on tonight for the crew to watch and everyone keeps tuned in to the tasks at hand unlike the occasional Greek ship that ends up at the bottom of the Med.

The ticket for this leg was 46 Euro although I got a sneaking feeling that the ‘local’ rate is a bit cheaper. One thing I did notice related to this at the train station was that when I started to buy a ticket from the ticket machines in Rome, that the ticket was 33 Euro but when an Italian guy came up and suggested he do it for me (in Italian), the same ticket on the same train in the same class was 19.50 Euro. I am use to this 2-tier practice in Asia but this was my first experience here in Europe (recently) for a two level pricing structure for locals and foreigners. The guy asked for money for ‘café’ and as I had just saved a considerable sum, I gave him 2 Euro.

Rome was pleasant enough with a few adventures along the way. Didn’t get a chance to see the German Pope, but honestly that would be on the bottom of my wish list of life’s adventures and things to do.

The 3 days there were decent at the beginning and end with a middle day of very light cold rain. Just as well, as I was exhausted and spent a good part of the day in my room working on photos and such. Have an album to upload called ‘Clocks of Rome’ but given the Internet paranoia the Italian’s have, that will have to wait for a more ‘user friendly’ environment.

It became obvious very quickly that the Internet in Italy is viewed as a evil tool of the devil. It seems that in an effort to control the ‘devil’, or the free flow of information and knowledge not controlled by the fascist state or the church, you have to register your use with the police each and every time you use it. Go figure.

The same country that gave us Operation Gladio, Mussolini, the concept of Fascism, the Inquisition, the Crusades, etc., etc., now want to make sure that the Internet is controlled by the same ruling elite….but there is no lack of sex and long legged dames on their TV. Sex and war is good for business. Same shit, just a different day.

Reminds me also that while I was watching this same TV I discovered that Bhutto in Pakistan finally got her brains blown out (I was surprised it took that long), but the US government is trying to calm everyone’s fears by assuring us that Pakistan’s nukes are ‘secure’ and that US Special Forces will start entering the country after the beginning of the new year. For what purposes seems a bit unclear. Sounds perfectly normal in a totally insane world right?

Let me see if I am interpreting this correctly however. The US is helping secure the Pakistani nuclear arsenal while only a few months ago a B-52 bomber with nukes strapped under its wings loaded into operational cruise missiles is discovered ‘accidentally’ hours after it lands in a US middle-east staging base in Louisiana (like with 911, just forget all the technical details about how such a thing is impossible to happen with the explanations given).

“Oooppss…sorry folks….we misplaced them for awhile”, but when someone ratted on us and turned us in, we had to admit they were ‘missing’. Now we got the same boys ‘locking down’ Pakistani nukes. God help us all! I feel sooooo much better…don’t you?

But you know what? I suspect all these kind folks around me with all their smiling and happy families staring fixated onto the idiot boxes know nothing about any of the above. If it isn’t in the elite’s press or media and doesn’t serve their agenda, it simply doesn’t get reported. And since the Net is for those evil foreign devils and American conspiracy theorists (and we know all about how crazy they are), what you see is what you get….but sex and soccer seem real popular everywhere around here.

Of course it is this same thinking and control that brought us Mussolini and Hitler, but we all know that could never happen again…right? And remember their stories after the Reichstag was burned and the staged Polish attack.

I am passionate about the Internet and I fear that its’ days are numbered as we know it and grew to love it. 2008 will be a pivotal year for it and its demise is underway as we know it.

As the tall black man took my passport to control it in Naples when I went to use it today, he clearly stated it was the law by the police and what was wrong with that…in a rather funny, quizzical way? I asked him if he did the same thing for people placing calls in his phone boxes. The answer was “no”…of course.

I guess it is OK for one uniformed and unaware person to spread the word but we sure as hell want to make sure that we know who is looking at information from the outside. He also mentioned in a rather surprised way that the police can now enter your home anytime they want for anything they want here in Italy. New law here….same as the new law to do the same in the USA.

Hmmmmmm Hitler protected the Germans from the Communist (as did Operation Gladio in Italy) and today we are being protected from the ‘Terrorist’. I feel so much better and safer. Don’t you?

Oh joy…now the Village People’s song ‘Macho Macho Man’ is now playing on 4 TVs around me…..in stereo…and next to them are 5 amazingly sexy, long legged beauties in not much more than their birthday suits….sorry, I mis-spoke…there are a few straps of cloth wrapped around certain strategic assets. Guess you got to please every type of sexual persuasion in a properly ‘harmonized’ Europe. I have to admit however, it is hard not to focus on the screen's carnival!

I am literally sailing into a new year but I do wonder if the sheeple wonder, or even care about what lies before them in 2008? Naaaaaa….and those that do and care beyond today, are insane....

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