A Travellerspoint blog

August 1985

leave Australia

for Tahiti

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Friday 9th of August 1985
It’s 5:30 p.m. at Sydney’s international airport, flight UT 594 has all its passengers on board including me, and as 265 tonnes of DC 10 lifts of the runway for Noumea, Papeete and Los Angeles.
I do my sums.
 (1 A$ = 71.9 US$
 1 A$ = 110 Central Pacific Francs

I have:
106 US$

13,000 CPF

2,950 US$ Travellers Cheques

10 £
 and 21 Ozzie cents, which represents my net gains after 12 weeks with John Ward’s Brisbane locum service, misery Midge’s memos, Nigel, Patricia, Wendy, Niall, Julie, Shirley, John and John, Pat, Elisabeth.

Ahh what a pleasure to feel that tropical warmth again. Timeless Tahiti, it’s Friday again! Arrive early in the morning, a smiling girl places a frangipani flower in my hair, this sweetens the wait for customs. Board 'Le Truck' into town for 90 cents, this funky bus has the biggest set of speakers ever to grace an automobile. Walk half way back to the airport again trying to find the youth hostel, no one seems to know where it is. Tired and fed up by the time I find it, Get a 3 bedded room to myself, 1500 francs per night, even with YHA card! Expensive. My own shower sink and balcony are a little bit of luxury, and I overlook the squalid tent site.

Posted by 1985 trip 09:00 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

preparing for south america

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Slept a lot, did running repairs to pockets etc make antitheft devices ready for South America. Open up seams for $ notes, poke a fine chain using a coat hangar down the strap of my shoulder bag, and thread a metal guitar string through the belt of my money bag. I’m now impenetrable! Must leave the hostel tomorrow, there is a big group coming. Taihiti is very mountainous and populated by rich French yacht owners, it’s the sort of place where you own an island or two, prices as a consequence are sky high, street van pizza 500 francs.

Posted by 1985 trip 08:44 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

off to Moorea

by boat

sunny 30 °C
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Vacate room early and hang around the tourist office for an hour hoping it will open ( thinking its Monday) and entertained by a large pack of excited and fornicating street dogs. Wander down to the quay and onto the Moorea ferry just prior to departure, 1000 francs one-way 40 minute ride.

Very picturesque Captain Cook Bay, turquoise blue sea, thatched cottages, vertical jaded peaks, clacking yachts, and the remote boom of the surf on the reef. Catch Le Truck 14 km to Chez Pauline’s 200 francs. A large one story veranda-ed wooden house, dark and musty inside, attendant outbuildings of thatch and woven cane provide kitchen and dining-room. There is a sitting out area over a stream. Madame Pauline has a haughty style and barely utters a word as she shows me my room and departs. Long grey hair and flowing bright cotton print smock. There is an eternal game of Boules in the yard. The children, one blonde, never go to school, I think Madame Pauline is granny.
I turn up for dinner after dusk, all very sang froid, excellent steak with prawns French bread and some starchy vegetable as chips. Read novel by the warm glow of a paraffin lamp with decorative shells in the paraffin.

Posted by 1985 trip 08:45 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

walk 16 km

sunny 30 °C
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Hitch back to Pao Pao in Cooks Bay this morning to find a bank, hitch a lift in a van full of pineapples, very prickly ride.

After picnic lunch spend the rest of the day strolling home, 16 km. One lift for two km, two buses, but don’t stop. Arrive exhausted and have a beer. Dine on pork and cabbage with cold wild Taihitian spinach in vinaigrette and rice. The spinach tasted like artichokes. The whole island is very verdant.

Posted by 1985 trip 08:50 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

ticking off from madame

sunny 30 °C
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lounge about doing my home work, Nigel Davies' book on the Olmecs, Toltecs, and Aztecs is proving excellent.
Spend a long time doing nothing. An English family have arrived, but they are away in their car.

Get a real ticking off from Madame at dinner time, I think I should have booked.
Make a clumsy attempt to book tomorrow’s dinner. My spoken french is appalling. I have poisson crude, a mild soused fish, salad with scrumptious dressing, prawns, bread and pineapple.

Posted by 1985 trip 08:54 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

under the shade of a flamboyant tree

in Moorea

sunny 30 °C
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Wednesday 14th August
Sleep fitfully until dawn and then soundly until midday.
Do my washing and have biscuits and Milo on the whitewashed sea wall of the church under the shade of a flamboyant tree. The kids are fooling in the gentle surf with bits of plywood surfboards. Their wet skins shine brightly in the fierce sunshine. Try and learn some Spanish.
Lots of people for dinner, glad I booked! Two smiling flower laden girls do the serving. Soup, omelette, gruel, fish.

Posted by 1985 trip 08:56 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

leave Moorea

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Thursday 15th August
Madame’s meals were 1600 francs. Phew.
Up at 6 a.m. before the hot water, have a cold sprinkle, pack and pay the bill. Catch the truck by chance and make it to the ferry in good time, return to Tahiti.
It’s a public holiday, no chance of a bus to the Gaughan museum which is 50 km away on the other side of the island. Get to the Taihitian museum only nine km away. It is small but leafy and I have a snooze. Crash for the night in the scruffy campsite near the hostel 300 francs. Up at dawn and walk to the airport.

Posted by 1985 trip 08:58 Archived in French Polynesia Comments (0)

to Los Angeles

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Friday 16th August
DC 10 to Los Angeles. Sit next to Kiwi girl who is just setting off on her first trip going to London and Europe. Watch the Philadelphia experiment, which she describes as a man's movie, full of supporting female roles.
Dramatic descent over Los Angeles at dusk, vast acres of suburbia with twinkling free ways and a rim of hills peaking through the smog. Spanking new Airport, I’m first through customs, the guy says “have a good one” as I walk through. Ronald Reagan’s photo and welcome to USA. Meet a German guy from the international hostel touting for business at 8 dollars a night and a free lift, he finds 4 others and we’re off. Its in Venice on the corner of Venice and Lincoln boulevard, six bed dormitory’s.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:54 Archived in USA Comments (0)

tramps and bums

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Saturday 17th August
Catch the bus for the one hour ride downtown with Kiwi called Chris. Main street is full of tramps and bums selling everything from nail clippers to coke. Ride up and down in the frightening outside lifts of a futuristic hotel. Get a bus ticket to Tijuana for 10 dollars. All banks shut. Forget about MCO which I am planning to use for flight to Colombia. Spend the evening in the hostel bar drinking German lager.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Notts Farm

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Sunday 18th August
Set off fairly aimlessly with Chris again. End up spending the day at Notts farm, another vast amusement park started 30 years ago by a farmer's wife who made famous chicken dinners. Curiously the main object of the rides seems to be too empty your stomach, for instance Montezuma’s revenge propelled us at high-speed through a loop the loop. Takes about three hours on the bus to get back to Venice, Los Angeles really sprawls. Hot and smoggy, downtown is rather sinister at night.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:57 Archived in USA Comments (0)


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Monday 19th August
Have booked a ride in a car from the hostel to Disneyland 18 dollars for the one hour ride and then 16 dollars admission to Disneyland. Some good rides, more exciting than gut wrenching. Great attention to details in the theme. Ride the Mississippi steam boat, the animated robotics of Abraham Lincoln are impressive, as nearly 20 years old. The technology of this place triumphs over its tackiness. However it is stuffed with people all stuffing themselves, every 10th person is grossly obese. Endless queues for everything. August is the peak holiday season. Some of it seems a bit dated, rooted in the Sixties.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

by bus to baja california

from Los Angeles

sunny 30 °C
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Tuesday 20th August
Up at 5 a.m. shit, shower, shave, and catch the first 33 bus downtown to 638 Main Street ticket office to pickup my 730 bus.
Office staff advise me not to wait in the street outside.

Three hour high-speed coach down the free way to Tijuana, sleep most of the way. Spend several tedious hours wandering around car parks, tourist offices, and bridges trying to get my Mexican tourist car sorted out. A free piece of bureaucracy I need. Vast numbers of people cross the border here on daily shopping sprees so the actual border is a bit vague. I’m not really sure when I entered Mexico.

Get a bus out to the coach station and buy ticket for the 6 p.m. departure to La Paz, a 1500 km 22 hour trip for 7900 Pesos, about 25 dollars. I have seat number three first-class. Three Californian surf boarders are also heading south in search of the big wave.
Manage to sleep most of the trip. Small taco for supper, 80P

Posted by 1985 trip 11:01 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

22 hours on a bus in blistering heat

on a plastic seat

sunny 38 °C
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=Long bus journey= down the length of the Baja. Blistering heat. Even if you open the window it blows in hot air like form an oven. Dramatic rocky scenery with tall cactuses all around. The gulf is quite narrow, mountainous Mexico easily visible form the road. We stop about 5 times. A freaked out yankee girl tries to bum a ride on the bus but starts to recite strange incantations which puts the driver off and he puts her off. ? Mescal.

I nearly get left behind at Loreto. I had bought an excellent Taco Carne for 450 Pesos (1 USD = 320 P) just outside the bus station in Loreto. The bus tried to leave without me, the only gringo and I had been sitting right behind the driver with my luggage still on board, I had to chase after it furiously.

Arrive in La Paz at about 4pm and catch bus into town 30P. A china man from Aberdeen Scotland shows me the way to the Tourist Office in exchange for a good read of my South American Handbook. Get map. Find my way to 4 Casa de Huespedals, but no huy! Back to Toursit Office, open late and they get me into the Youth Hostel. Dorm bed 740P

Posted by 1985 trip 12:25 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Horchatas and Borretos

sunny 36 °C
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Thursday 22nd Agosta 1985

Desayunos mexican style and gratis. Excellent. Major laundry session at laundromat opposite hostel, 200P including tumble dry. Lunch pollo & bean soup, cabbage chillies and pig knuckle.
Wander down to the front, a quiet harbour with beaches and a few yachts. The ferry terminal is 15km up the coast, drat. Work out that a ferry to Topolobampo, my planned route, went yesterday afternoon, and the next one is on Sunday. Not ideal. Snooze on a park bench after large glass of some exotic fruit juice ? Horchatas 70P. Woken up by someone shouting Will! Not me.
Striking sunset. Large pelicans flap ungainly across the mauve and orange sky. Suddenly they plop clumsily into the sea, jaws agape.
Get mad keen on the the freshly squeezed juices from very busy industrial style juice bars. It is seriously hot here. Pomegranate, lemon, orange, tamarind, melon, mango.
Buy some sandals as my shoes are starting to stink in the heat. Make my feet sore walking all round town in them. Eat borretos again - something wrapped up in a tortilla. Settling in.

Posted by 1985 trip 12:44 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

ferry sold out - stuck in La Paz

sunny 32 °C
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Friday 23rd Agosto
Ferry sold out for Sunday! Aaaargh.
End up with a 300P ticket to Mazatlan for this afternoon. Get too hot and sweat gallons trudging back in a hurry form the ferry office. Return some money I had borrowed at the hostel pack and leave. Paid for the extra night.
Endless queues for bus, customs, ferry etc. A large vehicle ferry. Fixtures and fittings very worn out, hope the hull and engine are in better condition. Fortunately my seat has both a bottom and a back. Most are missing one or the other. My neighbour gives up on hers in favour of a blanket on deck. Chicken dinner 600P
16 hour trip across to mainland ==Mexico==.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:02 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)