Category Archives: Travel

Baja California…er…adventure

We are five miles south of Ensenada…ex-ejido Chapultepec. Cars drive up and down every now and then outside the hotel. There is no other sound here, and no wireless networks at all.

If you keep walking west down the paved road you come to Faro beach quite quickly…Faro beach and trailer park. You can rent rooms there with kitchens, a space for a tent, a place to park. And welcome to chuntilandia! There are lines of washing. There is the smell of carne asada. There are ice-chests with beer, and radios playing rancheras and banda. Grandparents sit on folding chairs with their hard-faced tatted children and their children’s children in masses. The kids are lined up at the little store buying candy and snacks. You walk down the steps to the small stretch of beach and find it filled with more families; many of them are swimming in their clothes. To your left as your stare out over the ocean are broken down horses that you can rent for an hour’s worth of riding, and a wall that once bore a sign now half washed away saying the area is unsafe for swimming because of riptides. The remnants of what looks like a rather grand sea wall curve around with fisherman sat up on top. Before you get too far there is a fence, a guard, the other side is Estero beach resort. The people fishing on the other side are all white tourists. At least we are on the right side of the fence.

If you walk the other way you come to another dead end quite quickly, but you can climb up onto the wall’s ruin and follow it around past a new wall topped with barbed wire to the dirt road running to the houses behind the tents and short-term rentals.

The houses there are a crazy mix of anything that can be thrown together, the most common being a trailer entombed in a house, or a house built around a trailer…some feel more like one than the other. In one lot stood two toilets waiting patiently on a concrete foundation for their house to be built around them.

We passed Mario & Cookie’s house of love, un vato y su ruca on the sign and wedding pictures in the windows. There are a number of little houses here that are loved. But more that look empty, more that are abandoned and broken-windowed and falling apart quickly. Over a third are for sale.

In fact a huge amount of this whole town is for sale, or it feels that way. It feels as though it has lost its heart…or did it ever have one? I wonder if it is just an older prototype of what is springing up everywhere between TJ and Ensenada…the pockets of luxury play-homes, advertised by a line of billboards entirely in English showing the ocean, gleaming white houses with cool and modern interiors, beautiful women in bikinis. Mario at the bar said the resort has been there sixty-nine years and started out as almost nothing, a collection of trailers…some of the people in the restaurant had practically grown up there. They weren’t speaking Spanish. They were so obviously American in every visible way. I don’t understand how such a thing could be, but it obviously is.

Bev, Jose and I walked back to the hotel as it grew dark, and I attracted the attention of an old one-eyed cholo carrying a plastic cup of beer that was clearly not his first of the day. Like others before him he was taking no hints, to show off he had words with Jose about what neighborhood he was from, before it escalated the hotel owner kicked him out of the little courtyard…so that was exciting. We came in and watched anime until the coast was clear to go to the little bar next door for some bohemias.

I’ve enjoyed the adventure but…tomorrow we are getting the hell out of dodge for the day and look for another spot. Prepaid reservations now, that’s a dilemma.

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Scotland Remembered

Scotland remembered

So…struggling to keep awake and reset the old internal clock…up at 5 and I was absolutely finished today about 3 pm, but caught my second wind after I’d left work (I am hating this whole work thing I must say) and spent some quality time on the couch.  Nothing good to report about being in LA except being reunited with my chanclas (flip-flops to the Spanish deficient, and that reminds me, a chanclatada is a slap you give someone with your chancla, so I invented the spanglish word flip-floptada, but I don’t think it’s catching on), so I shall relive my holiday, and present…

drum roll please…

Edinburgh!  Lovely to be there with T and Chris, it shall live long among my happier memories.  We saw many sights, but just the city itself is lovely as you can see here

And here…

And here…

And here:

And here:

Went to a great pub and drank steadily, it is highly highly recommended but sadly I cannot remember its name…missed the train home but that wasn’t all bad…it was all right actually.  And finally, a few words of wisdom:

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Glasgow

Last day in Scotland?  Perhaps I’m staying here tomorrow as well and leaving Tuesday but who can tell?  I have to call the relatives and match up plans, we shall see how that goes, i have been truly terrible at communicating with my relatives so hopefully we all stay relatives at the end of this trip…mm, its only friends you can lose through lack of communication isn’t it, i’m just being very silly, possibly the massive hangover has something to do with that, erm, anyways, thought i’d do a little pictorial tour of Glasgow, I love this city!

Cool museums, though I’m not a hige museum person, but this is Kelvinhall, recently opened and FREE!  Also has Dali’s crucifiction on display…

And the People’s Palace, also FREE!  Where you can wear the displays!

Mm, we have great streets and great buildings, especially since i was lucky enough to have generally great weather

Everyone knows I like grafitti and some of the work here is great, we have one piper piping:

And one rogue

Also dragged the little brother to McKenzie’s Willow Tea Room…not happy…

He was hating until he discovered the joys of scones with cream and jam, then he thought it was all right…I must admit, pink and grey and tea rooms full of old ladies don’t do it for me really, but the billiard room was brilliant…Finally, St George’s Square…lots of other streets I loved and good times had and pubs enjoyed but they might have to wait for another day…

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Scotland holiday update

Just a short update for those of my friends anxiously waiting to hear how my holiday is going…very well!  Don’t have much time to write sadly cause i’ve been fiddling about with my photos but here are a few of the best…

Here is home base in Howwood where I’m staying with the uncle and aunt…

Went up to Loch Tay and saw Castle Menzies rather than the Crannog which was an excellent decision,

Tristram is in Hamilton, not scenic at all I’m afraid, but we took a little day trip to Chatlehraut – that is obviously a massacring of the spelling, but since i have already admitted i can’t spell…besides, it’s french

Climbed Ben Lomond as well, my first Munro!  Here is one view…

And a little bitty picture of me at the top!

Also took a day trip out to New Lanark and the Clyde Falls, which were incredible, though those stairs after Ben Lomond caused me great sadness…

Lot’s more but have to run…these pictures all look very healthy and outdoorsy, but never fear, I have also been taking full advantage of the pubs and drinking heavily…

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Welcome to Tijuana

Left thursday night for San Diego and a Friday presentation for the Southern California Technology something or other, and stayed at the…at the…damn, it was a good weekend! my only excuse, but it was a hotel, on San Diego’s hotel circle no less.  Who thought it a good idea to build hundreds of hotels on a mile long strip beside the freeway I ask you?  Ensuring that you must get into your car and drive if you wish to do anything but sleep or eat, I suppose it is the American way and the reason we’re the fattest nation in the world.  Still, our little hotel was a 1970’s paradise with a fake stone interior, fake tropical foliage and, I am happy to say, home to the Waffle Spot and a host of engaging breakfast characters such as the Waffle King, Sir Up, Squire Browns, the Court Eggster, Sir Robin of Flapjack, Sir Waffleot, and the Banger Brothers.  They were quite tasty.  The conference went well, I didn’t choke, and then we were off to Tijuana.

Tijuana…hard to know where to even start, I can’t…perhaps I shall just give random impressions.  The smell first of all, I think all big border towns smell the same, TJ, Nogales, Juarez…a mezcla of urine, roast meat, chiles, cheap perfume, hints of rotting garbage and sewage from time to time, sweat, leather and fresh cut wood from the shops…Naco doesn’t smell quite like that if anyone cares.  If you like cheap, colourful, shiny things this is paradise, base silver jewelry, bead bracelets, statues of every character you can imagine.  Christ and the Saints and la Virgen de Guadalupe in bottles, on towels, on shirts and ponchos, on blankets, pasted on wood plaques with shiny acrylic painted over them, as garish painted statues.  Right next to obscene T-shirts, right below the bars and strip clubs lining la Calle Revolucion.  Liquor stores everywhere.  Most of the women are sadly bulging out of skirts that are far too short and halter tops that are far too small.  Or sunburned tourists wearing flowy “vacation in mexico” clothes.  It is common practice to look a woman from top to bottom and then back up from bottom to top, and while emancipated, I have to admit myself quite glad of Jose and Ryan walking around with us because when every man does it I stop being furious and begin to be a tiny bit afraid.  But that was later really, I suppose an all night fling in TJ requires sterner stuff.

Every visitor is quickly drunk, because all the bars sell buckets of ice and beer – 10 coronas for $10.  Or shots of course, and caballitos for the unwary.  I tried one of those on my 21st b-day in Guadalajara, everyone poured out of the kitchen banging on pots and pans while a waiter tipped a shot of tequila down my throat, covered my mouth with a hand towel and shook my head roughly while blowing loudly on a whistle.  I have never been drunker. This is background, because on Friday, I saw them pour 5 shots down people’s throats and even though the poor souls were begging for mercy, shake their heads all around. We saw cops wrestling this huge pelon to the ground, handcuff him, and throw him into the back of their pick-up.  I think it must have been a slow night because the dance floors were pretty thin of dancers, and so you were able to watch some rather disgusting displays, and I am really afraid that if hear another raggaeton song playing ever again it shall bring with it incredibly disturbing flashbacks.  Every strip club had men in front to bring in the customers with a variety of propositions for ladies and gentlemen alike…the place is just a mad mixture of drunkeness, sex, mad catholicism in bright colours, desperate poverty, falling down buildings and rubble, clubs blasting out cumbias and reggaeton and hip hop from all directions…

Highlights were the lucha match, that was awesome.  Sobering up a bit in the early early morning with tacos 3 for a dollar and Vicente Fernandez singing Por Tu Maldito Amor and Volver Volver Volver on the juke box and me singing along with him – I like singing with a beer in one hand and a taco in the other.  Our taxi driver who taught us the fantastic new phrase hijo de la mañana.  Really good tapas at a Spanish restauraunt. Wandering old men carrying guitars and accordeons and bases, singing us rancheras over a late and delicious breakfast.  A Darth Vader marionette.  Playing pool at 4:00 am in a sketch bar, where there were only 3 solids yet two cue balls, only two cue sticks one of which was sadly cracked, and the table felt was stained and still wet from, er, something or other…I played brilliantly though with an incomplete set who can care but me?  It happens from time to splendid time though how I make almost every shot I really have no idea since in general I am pretty bad.

Of course the best bit was just a memorable weekend with good friends.  Hope Britain can compete, only 4 to days to go and I’m off!

Last World Cup Game in Vancouver

my mourning period for Mexico is still not quite over, but I am feeling much better certainly!  We went to an English spot this morning to catch the game as did over a hundred other fans and therefore I did not care a bit that England is still playing like shit, though Ecuador played much worse…that shot by Beckham was incredible, and besides, I was regaling myself with bacon and eggs while singing God Save the Queen and something else quite catchy but seeming to have lots of syllables and no words and crashing my coffee cup down on the counter while chanting and clapping and jumping up and down the whole time.  And the match this afternoon, for pure drama it was brilliant!  I do love a good fight or two, means the teams have heart que no?  I was hoping for ot, but the damned dutch just couldn’t seem to find the net…still, England should be moving ahead nicely given all the red cards…and Figo’s probably out as well.  It was a noble head butt though, what possessed the man?

One observation…when Italy won earlier this week the Italians poured out of Cafe Roma en masse to celebrate in the streets.  And today when portugal won the Portuguese poured out of the Portuguese Club of Vancouver (of which i became an honorary associate member today) and shut down the street – even more of them present, it looked like a parade!  When the English won, they sang, jumped up and down, waved their arms around, but did they leave the bar?  No…they ordered another round.  I imagine many of them were planning a day of it.  I shall leave the deductions to you!

Thinking on Thursdays

I like to think on Thursdays.  Today, for no particular reason, I once again asked myself the question, who am I?  I’m not sure I’m any clearer than the last time I asked, though i am currently quite sure that I do not like uncooked vegies, I need a shower, my eyes are green, and they do not function as windows to my soul – why couldn’t it be that easy?  I do not think I am who I love, or what I do, or what I write, or where I live or where I was born or the language I speak or what I believe or how I conduct myself or how I dress or what I fear or the music I like or who I know and what I own…am I really none of these things, or a piece of all of these things?  There has to be a bit more.  I know different people who seem to pick one of these categories and define themselves by that…actually, they don’t seem to ask the question at all and so fall into one by default.  It seems much easier, every now and then i feel like giving up on the inner discussion and picking one of them too yet can’t quite manage it…perhaps I should just read more of my junk mail from astrology.com and do some myspace surveys.  In short, I could talk about myself all day but that doesn’t seem to help answer the principal question, and I want to know!  I also asked myself what I really want and damned if I know that either, apart from Mexico to beat Argentina, general justice for all, my parent’s mortgage paid off, enlightenment and a mini cooper (not much to ask for really…). The only good news is that after all this thinking I am reasonably certain that I do in fact exist, though I now have a headache and a sudden desire for a cigarette.

Well well, this is getting a bit too serious for me…I’m currently kicking it with Ozzy, a large german shepard who seems to exist solely for lots of attention, food, and two walks a day, perhaps I should try that out.  This morning I went down to Commercial St in the heart of the Italian neighborhood to catch the game…superb!  Even if it was standing room only at Cafe Roma and my feet were hurting!  The aftermath was mad celebration and a partial blockage of the street

The sessions at the conference we wanted to go to were full so we ended up wandering again…but here’s a shot across the bay

And a view from the top of a very high building…

Some cool public discussions…I’m thinking of trying this in LA, but wheatpasting is quite frowned upon by LAPD unless you work for Nike.  I have never been arrested, though, it might tell me something more about myself, so perhaps it’s time.

And finally a woman who actually knows what she wants…still don’t think I want to be married myself but I do find it much easier to live with myself than with other people, so perhaps it makes sense…

I’m off to take that shower now, I might think better when I’m clean. I imagine the general dirtiness of philosphers to date is the reason that none of my above questions ahve yet been answered…

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Tuesday in vancouver

Ahh…i feel like I’m on vacation though I’m really not.  I’m working, really, I swear!  And the alcohol is really helping my schmoozing skills.  I was just sitting on the back porch and the night is close to balmy, and I saw my first specimen of Canadian wildlife.  Alas, it was not the majestic bullwinkian moose.  Still, a live skunk is not to be sneezed at, given that to date I have only seen dead ones!

The conference is going well, today was a pretty good day and just to prove that I was here, I took this:

Lovely sunny day, no?  There is a view out over the water which is beautiful, but a little too cold for the likes of me.  Still, I saw my first Chevron on a lake.

The first forum had the irrepresible Vice-president of the Phillipines who spoke on the voluntary relocation of thousands of people, and that those same people were happily and voluntarily dismantling their own homes with the goodwill and support of the police…I believed every word of course, and when the world bank representative spoke of the “captive” bank, severely and sadly restricted in their disbursement of funds for good causes I believed him too, it might even be true in the alternate dimension both of them are clearly living in.  Luckily one of the other speakers was an inspiring speaker and tiny man from India, head of the Interational slum dwellers alliance, he reminded me strongly of Don Toñito an old FMLN guerrillero I used to work with and miss a great deal…that and the fact that the speaker’s comments were called interventions for some unknown yet very humorous reason helped me get through the morning.  I also discovered that Spain has a minister of something or other who looks just like Tim Robbins.  Shawshank Redemption – genious!  Lastly there was an exhibition before the last panel and the Swedes were living it up with wine, cheese, and crackers, and we indulged heavily before someone noticed we had no invitation…damn sweden tying it up with England!  They definitely owed me!

Wandering the city streets before eating we found very cool things and thought-provoking things, i was trying to decide which to start with, and cool seems to be in order.  We found a game shop which contained within its walls every game known to man, and a number of old arcade games known only to the sovereign few…can you feel the magic?

They had all the games i remember and more…for example, I don’t believe I ever played any of the following (but would be willing to now!)

Snifty snakes – looks like some fun times!  And these?

Smokers wild looks particularly fun, though Mid-Est Peace (from 1992) comes a close second! They also had vintage star wars action figure games, an old miss Pac-Man arcade game and one of those funky love metres that used to be down at the Peter Piper’s Pizza, I’m trying to decide what I actually want to buy, or could afford…an almost impossible decision!

Thought provoking was the street art – this is all to be found on the east side, the skid row of Vancouver…I am amazed to find that Canadians are amazed to find that Los Angeles has it much worse.  I don’t think they believe us though it’s true.

I liked this poster as well

There’s more to come knowing me, but here’s a pretty shot of the city for balance:

It’s good to be here, though strangely enough I am going through i-pod withdrawal complete with shakes since I have not worn headphones for three days together, I’m about to remedy that so no fear.  We also just found out there’s a party on Saturday night at the clothing optional beach and we’re going…though it’s not quite so balmy that clothing really is optional and I’m not too sad since in my experience those not wearing clothing at such places are generally the people you really wish were wearing clothing.  Life is unfair.

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Vancouver’s Prettier Side

First day in Vancouver and I love this city!!  Had a great day today…after the games (accompanied by mad brazilians with drums and cowbells and tambourines and shakers), my coworker Davin and I wandered the Vancouverian streets and found these…

untempted we moved on…what were tempting were the lizards on a stick.  Don’t belive me?

In fact, there were some other yummy unknown things all dried up and for sale, squids I think, and eels maybe?

There was also this guy…very tempting if you ask me!

And the bars!!

and this one…

and this one…

and for all of your meat needs (apart from lizards, squids, and eels)

And finally a store closely akin to my own heart with everything ridiculous in it, hanging in the window…can you see them?  out of focus I know, i apologize, but look closely!

You got it, Nietzsche and Ghandi finger puppets…guess who’s coming home with me to LA?  If I can only smuggle him past immigration…

I might post some nice pictures of Vancouver tomorrow!  Most of the city is beautiful, i forgot how much i like flowers and the color green!

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