A Travellerspoint blog

LA and San Fran

altogether a defining moment in any trip to Cali.

semi-overcast 20 °C

So finished with the developing world and moved back to the land where freedom is delivered to your doorstep by homeland security using a helicopter. You will have some even if you don't like it. Not sure how free somewhere is if you can't drink a beer on the streets but who asked me...

Firstly the good news. This fella is in charge.

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No girlyboy running this state thankyou very much.

Once again to introductions to kick off. Joining at this point are Christine and Martin.

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Both Swiss passport holders and as such responsible for steadying the ship amid potential choppy waters ahead.

Firstly LA. All in all worth skipping. Following photos taken between sitting in a car for hours upon hours. One rule of thumb. If you live here, live close to work. Otherwise you will spend an awful lot of time looking at the back of the car in front. I don't like it so photos is all you get. Big trucks not a big deal here but the one below scared the shit out of me as I was trying to sleep in the passenger seat. Anyway, what chance do you have of saying anything worthwhile about a town where this is common practise.

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So, onto happier climes. San fran. Very cool town. First impressions would be that a legion of crackheads have taken over the streets and that first impression, as scary as it may be, is completely correct. Hundreds of them, all over the place. The reason I was told is that San Fran is one of the most libeal places for them to hang out, they also receive food stamps and support and there are a large number of shelters. Combine that with the fact that the weather is tolerable for camping all year round and due to the fact that the city is more European than any other in California (i.e. tourists pass you by rather than having to go looking for them) it all adds up to a weird street scene. I have to say that although there are lots of them they must be the most politte set of crackheads I have ever seen. Rarely asking for money, selling drugs of course but not aggressive at all and seemingly just getting mashed up and hanging out. Lifestyle choice I suppose. But in San Fran pretty much anything goes. People are truly not bothered about how you dress, what you do (within some loose limits) or what people think of them while they are dancing like a lunatic dressed like a neurosurgeon. Cool place. Jeremiah re-joining the trip, earlier spotted on the blog driving the rental car through a swamp in Costa Rica, and very welcome he is too. Touristic stuff observed below:

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So bridge, golden gate park, old houses (hoorah), another park all taken care of we ventured out into the night to see what trouble could be found.

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I would agree that Jazz is not normally classified as `dangerous` per se but it was easier to put it all together and I am under a bit of time pressure as I am at an airport with a flight taking off in about 45 minutes. Whatever. More photos. Of trees, very large trees.

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Which was a forest just outside of San Fran - sounded pretty poor but actually was quite cool. Memorial day Monday too so much hushed appreciation by all. Also went to Carnaval - no clue why it is in May but trust a Yank to pick the month that is most convenient rather than actually correct - and it was shit. So avoid that if you can.

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So all in highly recommended. Good luck to Chris with the rest of her studies. A+ chica, la prochaine fois nous pouvons parler en anglais mais si t`as un accent Americaine.....ou si tu dis `frickin` you will be in trouble. As discussed its `f@#k you, you f@#king f*#k` in correct English. Besos. Miah, see you around buddy, glad we could catch up, oh, and skeet skeet. If you get my drift.

Martin and I head East next for tales of the desert and some town stuck in the middle of arid scrubland where fat people gather to throw money into machines in some sort of ritual sacrifice of their hard earned dollars to the Capitalist God `Lard`. Thats what it says in the book anyway. Sneak preview for you:

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Really, do they have no shame.

Will let you know in a few days. Wish me luck. Skeet skeet y`all.
Lid

Posted by lidster 23:44 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Mexico

tacos, amigos and quite a few gringos.

sunny 35 °C

So Cuba was an experience all of its own and I was fortunate to surround it with a squashy and slightly moist layer of the Yucatan. Home to, well, Americans mostly. Cancun you should know from Girls Gone Wild 17 but if you don't imagine drunk brits slapping it up in Spain but with a less expansive vocabulary and at significantly higher volume.

Anyone know where the Gringo thing comes from? I do. If you do not then I recommend you use Wikipedia to find out rather than hanging around hoping someone else will fill in the blanks for you. Honestly.

So Cancun. No idea. Didn't go. Next beach down is Playa Del Carmen. Stayed one night. Loads of dive shops and lots of skimpily clad boys and girls drinking too much.

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I was the one crashed on the beach taking the picture. By now all of you know Al and Pat. Pat actually got arrested in Tulum for micturating on the street (would give you the wikipedia link just in case but looks like someone mis-spelt it... or I did). Photos of that do exist (the arrest not the watering of the sidewalk). In any case we should continue. I remember being a kid and my parents asking me: "would you jump off a bridge just because everyone else did?" well Mexico with Pat, Alex and myself was more a question of "where's the bridge".

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Or "where's the dos equis factory", "where can we find a dude with the trolley", and "what do you mean someone's called the army?", but you get the underlying texture of the experience.

So what else did we do? Well. Some of this:

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Although don't get the wrong idea from that. San Fran coming up in a few days for innuendo's of that nature. We then headed to the beach for some of this sort of thing.

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Rented a car.

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Which may not sound exciting but I destroyed my license by washing it the day before I left and Alex's had expired some time last year. Not a problem in Mexico though. Which was nice.

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Checked out some ruins. Tulum for info.

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If you look closely (and I know which ones of you will) you will be able to see not only some ancient Mayan monuments but also a french girl with her ya-ya's out. Bonus I think you will agree.

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So that kind of wraps it up for Mexico. At least for now. Skip the trashy gringo-fied stuff and head to any place you see with plastic chairs and tacos for less than a dollar. Much nicer. Oh, and check out some of the beaches, not bad.

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Thanks again to Pat and Al. See you both in the next couple of months. Take care of yourselves fellas. Be good.

And Al, when you can send me the photo of the 3 of us naked in the street except for sombrero's I'll post it. The world awaits. Probably quite afraid.....

Take care all. (Potentially) Fake tales of San Francisco to follow soon-ish.
Lid

Posted by lidster 21:02 Archived in Mexico Comments (3)

Cuba

Viva la revolucion.

sunny 35 °C

Bits and pieces to follow from Mexico and chunks of the US broken into hopefully digestable sections but for the moment I would like to concentrate on our comrades living an alternative lifestyle on an island in the Caribbean. While the rest of us have been slitting each others throats to get ahead in the rat race one bastion of socialism survives. (I don't count North Korea as it sounds a bit like 1984 or Chavez in Venezuela as it sounds a bit like a bad Bond film - or other places I don't know about). The Soviet Bloc gave up the ghost, Vietnam won the war but ended up making Nike's in any case and what else is there? And more than anything Fidel passed on power to Raul and no-one knows what that means but either it means change or (based upon the average age - 70 - of the politburo) change a bit later on, it seemed a good time to see it. See what it is, or was, or at least see it and tell people what they wished it to be. Whatever. Attention please, introductions first order of business. Please welcome back Pat and Alex (Patricio y Alejandro in this part of the world) who none of you will remember from the Chile boat trip.

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Managed to meet up with them in Mexico and luck would have it they had dinner plans with Fidel. Asked if I could join and being generous types they let me tag along.

So what would you associate with Cuba? Salsa 'til morning? Rum and cigars? Che, Fidel and the boys? Old missiles and cars? Waterboarding in jumpsuits? Midgets in bra's? You would, of course, be mostly correct in these assumptions but it was both more and less than expected in a way that is difficult to adequately explain. As such I think the photos will be the good bit and the words will try to do a Damian Hirst on the bad bits. Thats the plan at least and as Fidel will tell you, if you don't have a plan then what chance have you got of rocking up to the parliament building with a couple of tanks and some wide eyed commies and getting yourself a country? None at all I think we all agree.

Visited Havana first. Primarily due to extensive research but also because that is where the plane landed. Got a taxi to roll in. Couldn't turn it down really.

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And rather randomly this as well.

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Revolution may well be most excellent but if people start rocking up with trumpets then even the fabric of communist societies may come apart at the stitches. So don't take one if you go. They're not mucking around.

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Talking of which, Cuba must be the only place in the world where all the graffiti is pro-government. All of it.

Bit of this too.

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Although my favourite was the "NO FASCISMO" with a huge painting of Hitler on it. I think we can all agree with that but somehow rarely feel the need to get cracking on a billboard to remind people. Can't be too careful I suppose.

Havana will give most people an awesome opportunity to take pictures which scream Cuba but there was something missing. We had the impression that Cuba was rocking until dawn every night but that we just couldn't find it. In reality there are clubs and bars and places to go at night but mixing with locals is a bit more complicated. Mainly because they are all super friendly for the first 3 minutes and then try to sell you something, anything. I understand the background stuff, poverty, bit of oppression, rich gringo's passing through. I get it, really. It was just a little disappointing that one place I had always wanted to go, speaking enough Spanish to get some feeling from the people and all I actually found available were 80's hookers, cheap cigars and nutters. Only purchased the odd cigar for info.

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Wish I could be that cool. Being white not the best start I'll give you.

Cuba runs on 2 currencies. Pesos convertibles for you and I and pesos cubanos for the locals. Convertibles are supposed to be about 1:1 with the dollar but vary wildly which is weird as they are not internationally tradeable. Pesos cubanos are paid to people by the state. These are not given out in significant numbers nor are they worth much which is an issue if you are a local. One bloke said they get paid the equivalent of 20 US a month. This does not go far even in Cuba. As such the locals are all gunning for some black market convertibles. Only way to survive really.

All got a bit much combined with the heat so headed for a bar to cool off.

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And so on. We went to a place called cafe de paris where some bloke did some caricatures of us. Sounds rubbish but we were impressed.

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More blue jeans indeed.

Headed out of the city (which with all of the 1950's cars looks cool but is horrendously polluted) and went South. Trinidade. Chilled.

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Place called casa di musica rocks salsa etc every night. Very friendly types, no Liddington dancing though. Didn't stop the fellas.

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Gay.

Better.

All in all. Cuba is really cool. Havana is hectic and pretty dirty but well worth seeing. You walk around every corner and you could be nowhere else. It has a look about it that can only be Cuba. Truly amazing. Outside of Havana is more chilled and the people give you a bit of space. Well, a bit more space at least. And they drink and dance lots which is never a bad thing. And if you want to hang out and look relatively cool in pictures, its the place to go.

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Viva cuba libre amigos.

Thanks to Pat and Al for being most excellent. Made the 2 weeks for me boys. Very cool. Hope the family is well Pat. Take care both of you.

Have a good next section of your life. The 3 Amigos shall ride again... and... has anyone seen my elbow, been trying to lick it for the last 3 hours.
Lid

Posted by lidster 17:38 Archived in Cuba Comments (1)

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