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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)

500 km to Guadalajara

sunny 30 °C
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Saturday 24th August

An exceedingly tedious, very hot, sunburnt day, wandering aimlessly around Mazatlan waiting for the overnight bus out of town. Even my small parcel of belongings, 11 kg, starts to drag. Grateful I don't have a big backpack of stuff. A segunda class ticket costs 2315 P for the 10 hour trip. The seats reclined and were comfy. Several attempts to bump me up to first class on a earlier bus for a few extra dollars, but it gets into Guadalajara too early.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:09 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

beautiful Guadalajara

semi-overcast 26 °C
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Sunday 25th Agosta 1985

Arrive early by bus from Mazatlan. Walk up Av Colonia to the centre of town and eventually find Hotel Gonzalez (behind the cathedral one block from the market) Actually its at 77 Ortega Gonzalez street. Get a room on the inner courtyard with private shower and loo for 1100 P. Very pleasant climate and the town is still quiet.

The climate in Mexico depends on altitude not latitude. We are at 1650m so it is warm but not hot. Still get sweaty if you go walk about in the midday sun though. Obligatory siesta.
The beautiful pedestrianised colonnades of the old colonial centre come alive with people in the evening. Old ladies selling slabs of nougat, grubby fingers. Indians selling boiled corn on the cob, mime artists, a brass band in a fantastic wrought iron art nouveau bandstand. Strolling mariachi players hassle the out door diners. Each group consists of a few guitars, violins, and trumpets, so they make quite a racket. Each set piece usually includes a bit of singing. Most of them manage a smoke and a drink during their brief recital before moving to the next table. Some marvellously ugly faces, and some grand sweeping moustaches. I peep inside a church. Its packed.
Beautiful architecture, most of it several hundred years old but battered and repaired since earthquakes. Plenty of roses and fountains, murals and sculptures. The main building material is a mottled volcanic stone, pock marked and scarred by long escaped gases.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:45 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

fiery Orozco mural

sunny 25 °C
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Monday 26th August 1985


Museums all closed. So spend a dreamy time in the grand courtyard of the Palacio Gobierno, all arches and huge terracotta pots of palms and geraniums, shining marble floors, fiery Orozco mural and the quiet clatter of local government typewriters. I quickly imagine I live here. Escape up onto the roof and see the secret side of the building with all its pipes and vents. Grand views of the cathedral etc. It is a very attractive building.
Pop around a few churches too. Elaborate chirrugueresque altar pieces, all gilded and carved. Miserable looking saints peer from every niche. The churches have reliably spectacular interiors. The main cathedral is a peculiar mishmash of buildings, spires and stones. The paved streets clatter with horses and carriages. Every tree has a shoe shiner lurking in the shadow. There are hundreds of them. Also a lot of indians selling crisps, chewing gum, or failing, that begging.

Posted by 1985 trip 14:18 Archived in Mexico Tagged guadalajara Comments (0)

buy a new camera

sunny 26 °C
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Tuesday 27th August 1985
Plod down Independance street to the railway station. Stand in line for 40 minutes. No especial primera tickets for tomorrow so buy for 29th at 8.55 am for 2198 P. Its about 628 km I think, arrives late in the morning.

I also buy a Kodak V4 camera for 11,000P the cheapest 35mm with flash I could find. A necessary expense but painful for a boy on a very tight budget. Lost original camera on the great barrier reef. Take a lot of pictures and post film back to Norwich.

Do washing.

Posted by 1985 trip 14:35 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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