(Very) short travel stories by a ‘financial independence’ wannabe – guaranteed 50% true.

marc2Buckled up in my uncomfortable economy class seat and several uneventful hours into the flight to Chicago I gazed through the small oval window next to me, hypnotized by the countless white specks that dotted the dark blue ocean, thirty thousand feet below. When I saw the first speck I thought it was a cruise ship, a big lazy luxury liner carrying dreamy honeymoon couples and other cocktail sipping pleasure seekers.

Ms ZiYou wrote about her adventures in Africa quite recently. It was an injection of pure inspiration. I have traveled a lot for my work, but never took the time to process what I have experienced. But why not pour out my memories in the form of blog posts? See it as a form of anticipatory pleasure. Once I reach financial independence I will definitely travel a lot more! It will be a mix of real life factual accounts, semi-fictional stories with made up characters and whatever I feel like writing. Always with a good dose of truth. Take today’s story. I literally experienced this when I traveled across the Atlantic one day.

But more and more white specks had materialized, and I had stopped counting. There were literally hundreds. A few passenger ships maybe, but that many? These tiny white specks were not man-made vessels. No, they were icebergs, a whole legion of them, majestically wandering south from Greenland like a silent army marching to its annihilation and stretching as far as the eye could see. As I stared at this sublime and poetic display of nature, I was overwhelmed by emotions, washing over me as a trembling flood.

‘Chicken or beef!’ How rude. An obese, bubblegum chewing stewardess was about to throw a tray with food on my little tray table. I was in the mood for wine and exquisite food, accompanied by soothing music, not for semi-warm food wrapped in plastic, served by an airborne waitress hired from some local burger joint. But I heard myself saying ‘chicken’ and I felt like one.

I was sitting next to a lady, very old, with skin frail as paper and wrinkly like an old apple, who was dressed in black and had a head scarf, also in black. Her teeth, the few that remained, were also black. They were fully exposed when she smiled at the stewardess holding the tray, like blackened tree stumps after a raging forest fire.

‘Chicken or beef’, the stewardess said to her, impatient and visibly annoyed. She evidently hated her job and I could not blame her. I would too, serving shitty food to people in an overcrowded metal tube, traveling at the speed of sound, thirty thousand feet up in the air.

It was a simple question, but not one that was going to be resolved easily. The old lady was from Moldova, a tiny eastern European country. Probably not Moldova, but I decided she looked like one who was from Moldova. Old and poor, from a rural area where western civilization had not yet ventured. She clearly did not understand English and her only means of communication seemed to be her charming smile with the black teeth. And she used it. She smiled and smiled, oblivious to the question she was asked. ‘C-h-i-c-k-e-n o-r b-e-e-f’, the stewardess repeated. More smiles, more black teeth.


Icebergs and old ladies from Moldova shared a quality, I thought. Grace, and not a superficial one like icing on a cake, but one that was like a fine liqueur, infused into dark chocolate truffles, adding to the richness of their taste. Icebergs and old ladies from Moldova were as beautiful as dawn, I concluded, turning to my tray and sticking my fork in the tiny salad that came with the chicken dish. Iceberg salad.

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