Time for another update..
As always, a lot has been happening but I've had trouble finding the time or the facilities to write about it. Now we (Sheila and I).. (Suzanne and I) are back in Damascus for trail days and I'm in the basement of the First Baptist Church which has been converted into a mini internet cafe to deal with the mass overflow of hikers in this town hungry for their www fix.
Before I talk about the days on the trail with Sheila or the beginning of 'Trail days' I need to tell you about Crazies #3 & 4 because it's a story worth telling..
I'm not sure exactly what night it was but Gandalf was camping up in our little spot along with the couple that had been there since I arrived in Damascus. I think the mans name was Richard and I can't remember her name but from now on I'll refer to them as #3 & 4. They had spent the past couple of nights in town because it had been raining and I hadn't really seen them at all.
Gandalf decided that we should get some beers so he headed into town to pick up them and some ice whilst I kept busy collecting firewood and starting a fire up. I'd got the fire going and was stoking it up into a blaze when a local came past called 'Timber' and offered me a beer. We got talking and he asked if he could pitch his hammock a little up the trail which was fine by me. Gandalf got back with the beers and we sat around the fire having a chat and some pretty quiet beers.
The couple (#3&4) then arrived and said they were pretty tired and were going to bed (it was still light) to which we all wished them a good night and stayed around the fire.
Night came and we still weren't loud as we could hear the couple having a bit of a domestic. All of a sudden the #4 (the lady) came out and asked if she could sit around the fire which we of course agreed with. At that point #3 (the bloke) started abusing us with really foul language which I don't want to repeat here but the general gist was that we were all welcome to sleep with his wife.
We were all quite taken aback by his outburst as there had been no precursor to it then Timber told him to come out and have a beer with us and sit around the fire as we were all friendly here and there wasn't any reason to be mad.
#3 came out and once he had a beer in his hand the change was instantaneous as he went from borderline psychotic to ambivalently friendly. Kind of disturbing to witness I have to say.
A brief description on the couple.. #3 was an older bloke fairly mundane looking, 6 ft, 60ish whilst his 'wife' (who we found out later was by 'common law' so not marital) #4 was at least 10 years younger maybe 15, kind of hippyish who liked to talk about fairies.
After they had spent a tiny amount of time around the fire, it was obvious that they were on something, which after some gentle questioning they said was wine but these guys were off their rockers so I sincerely doubt it was just that (my guess was cocaine or mushrooms). #3 liked to think of himself as a pseudo intellectual and kept naming Russian authors and asking if we knew them whilst #4 talked about chasing butterflies in Costa Rico and would begin singing whenever #3 annoyed her. As you can imagine it was kind of awkward having mentally fragile people big noting themselves especially as Timber was delighting in playing with them as they were so scattered you could say anything to them.
I was quite over their company especially as #4 kept trying to get cosy with all of us so I excused myself and went to bed which led to a mass exodus as Gandalf couldn't wait to get away as he had been trapped by #3 for a while and is too nice a guy to get himself out of it.
#4 stayed by the fire as she didn't want to go into the tent with #3 and they began to have their domestic again. It started out fairly tame but then it escalated and there is no way I'll repeat what they said to each other but I was disgusted with the words that they called each other and still can't believe that an older couple could even use that sort of language, especially in public.
As this was happening #4 began shaking my tent and asking if she could come in to which I gave a disbelieving and definite “No”. She then tried to come in but luckily she tried to come in from the side of the tent by burrowing under the fly. For you non-tent users thats like trying to enter a room through a wall when the door is a few feet away.
After her failed attempt and my more forceful rejection she went into the tent with #3 which was around the time that #3 couldn't find his wallet.
Now this is verbatim.. give or take a few words of the conversation that they had for the next three hours.
#4 asks “Where is your wallet”
#3 responds “I gave it to you”
#4 says “No you didn't you put it in the front of the pack”
#3 spits out “Now its gone, your boyfriends took it, don't you understand they've taken everything, we have nothing now”
#3 “the guy up top, he's a cop, he's recording everything”
#4 asks “Where is your wallet”
… You get the gist.
Sometimes #3 wouldn't even need provoking he'd just skip into the middle of the conversation and it only got worse when she couldn't find her phone.
The other dispute they would have was over zipping up the tent which could last up to 15 minutes and at least we weren't to blame for that one and that would have some finality to it when one of them would finally cave in and zip the tent.
Timber yelled at them to shut up, I yelled at them to shut up, hell even Gandalf yelled at them to shut up but our efforts would only give us 5-10 minutes of silence before their cyclonic conversation began again. By about 2 am, I'd given up trying to sleep and was reading my kindle and then Gandalf and I began joking about them, I mean in hindsight it was pretty funny as it isn't anything I've ever come across before and as frustrating as it was at the time I knew it would make a good blog entry.
I fell asleep soon after that but was woken up at 5 am by them having a huge domestic which more ridiculously foul language that can't be repeated here. Then she left to go to town and I went back to sleep. Finally rising at around 10, I headed into town and saw #3 coming up the path. He was all apologetic but I wasn't having a bar of it and forcibly inferred that he was leaving the campsite as we weren't going to put up with that charade again.
Postscript.. She found her phone, he found his wallet and they left our campsite and us some memories.