Generally speaking, when travelling in the British Isles, the only variation in climate is +/-5 degrees celsius and =/-10cm of rain. That pretty much just translates as: “here it is wet sometimes”, “here it is wet most of the time” and “here you will be wet all the time so feck off wit’yer whining!”. Ireland’s climate doesn’t get cold, doesn’t get warm, it just stays somewhere between a pleasant dampness in the air and bracing but irritatingly wet. As a result of my home’s invariable temperate climate, I sometimes find it hard to adjust to new weather conditions and rapid changes in heat.
It took a while to get used to the constant humidity of the jungle or the dry heat of the cities of Mexico, but generally speaking it was always warm and most days one could get away with the temperature control of shorts (if not the look of them). I now feel rather comfortable in warm climates and don’t sweat like a catholic priest in an orphanage in the hotter weather – and unlike said priests, I wasn’t sheltered by the Pope when things get unbearable. I hope this translates to less excessive sweating in the poorly climate-controlled, debased clubs of Europe when I get back, but I can only hope…
Anyway, the climate extremes have been playing with my head and dampening my swack for a while now. I’m adjusting better, but my closet may need an overhaul when I get back.
The Most Magnificent Mountains
From Creel, I took the train through the Copper Canyon on the most beautiful railway in the world. Words can’t describe how magnificent it all was and pictures cannot capture the sense of scale and awe felt while gazing out the muddied windows of the train. The train moves slowly and deliberately, as if it really wants you to sponge up the glory of the mountains and valleys and bathe in the scale of the glory. My mouth was gaping open the whole time, desperately fighting back the urge to “Oooohhh!!” and “Aaaawww!” when a new marvel of nature came around the corner.
On a slight aside, something strange has been happening to me. It is one of those situations where a sequence of events come to pass and the only logical answer is coincidence, but the far more tempting and unnerving answer is divine intervention. In Mexico, I was wandering through the old book market and came across a book that caught my attention. It depicted a blonde little boy in a blue jacket standing on a small planetoid. It was called “El Principito”. A Canadian came over and let out a little sound of joy as she saw it. “Ohmigod! The Little Prince! I love that book, I read it once a year!” is roughly what she said. An Israeli said words to the same effect. I had never heard of this. They were shocked, shocked that a book so influential in their lives was unknown to someone such as I. Later that evening, exhausted, I sat at my laptop, pulled it up and started reading. Then the Israeli joined and I began to read it aloud. Shortly after, the Canadian joined. I put on all the different accents I knew to try to convey the characters and the situations as best I could, putting on a little radio play as the words and story enraptured me. I loved it. It was a brilliant little book that really touched my normally stony Anglo-Saxon heart.
Anyway, shortly after this, two people moved into the dormitory I was staying at in Creel. They were from Arizona and were enjoying their spring break down in Arizona. Unfortunately something had gone horribly wrong and Andrew was feeling horribly sick. So his girlfriend, Carrie, in her infinite wisdom and good grace, decided to read, aloud, of all things, The Little Prince to ease his weariness. I thought this wonderful. Next time I get sick, someone read that book to me, I’d very much enjoy it.
But then something even stranger happened. I sat on the train from Creel to El Fuerte, choosing a seat with good viewing potential. A Spanish nurse was sitting next to me, wearing a heavy coat from Creel. As soon as the train got underway, she removed her coat to reveal, of all things, a Little Prince shirt with the eponymous young aristocrat perched upon his planetoid as above. Carrie and Andrew, the Arizonans, had begun reading it aloud it again as Andrew fell back into his sickly slumber. Then she saw the t-shirt and pointed to the book and everyone smiled and distributed knowing glances, like we were in a secret club and had just found fellow members in the wilds of public life. I just had my mind blown – something that has never figured in my 21 years of life happens to rear its head four times within three weeks, twice within a single day. How wonderful.
Frak This Shart, I’m Going For A Wark
I met someone who brought out the nerdiest tendencies in me. He was a Canuck on a motorbike, cycling his way through Mexico while sporting a goatee and leather jacket. For two days, it was just myself, him, a Frenchman and an Italian aerospace engineer (see previous post) at the hostel. We chatted and went for beers, as real men do when women aren’t around. I asked him what he did. He replied, coyly, that he was in the film industry. Where, I asked. Vancouver. What sort of work? Special effects. I rubbed my bristle and wondered: If you’re in SFX in Vancouver… does that mean you worked on Battlestar Galactica?
Oh, yes. Oh… YES. He was the technical special effects man. Every time a bullet exploded on BSG: him. The raptors and vipers shaking in the close-ups? Him. The mechanical work was his speciality. He described his work with the actors and writers and how he made the blood more goopy by adding in egg white which would just suck the whole blood bag right out and make for far more impressive splatter shots. He was travelling because he had just finished work on Suckerpunch, Zach Snyder’s new film. That’s the director responsible for 300, Watchmen and Dawn of the Dead. He says its going to be an absolutely nutty, brilliant, twisted masterpiece of design and visuals with a crazy-ass storyline that takes place in three different realms of reality and dreams. Sounds good to me.
We then spent the next evening not talking about BSG, mainly because this time women were actually present. So for whatever reason, we all ended up making dick jokes all night while a Belgian nurse talked about how cutting a man’s balls off, his manhood, his “defining masculinity” was the most difficult operation one ever has to do as a nurse. Proper beer banter, that.
Back To The Travellin’
I managed to get a lift from El Fuerte, Mexico, all the way to Tucson, Arizona with the delightful and very intelligent students from Northern Arizona. Unfortunately, Andrew, who was feeling sick and had to have the Little Prince read to him, was vomiting all night and pretty much crashed the whole car trip. So I had Carrie to talk to and we had a wonderful conversation, considering we had about eleven hours. We made it to the US border around 21:10. The Border Cop asked for passports, so I showed him mine. My visa was out of date. Shite. So I had to go fetch a new stamp for $6. Six dollars. To get into richest single country on the entire planet. That’s just petty.
But… I MADE IT TO THE UNITED CORPORATIONS OF AMERICA!!! SWEET VICTORY!!! My excitement was raised to solar levels as I crossed the border, desperate to be able to speak English to the locals and to be able to read the papers again… and the servers at the first store I visited all spoke Spanish to me. Oh well.
We made the short drive to Tucson to stay with Carrie’s mother for the night, where we chatted and talked about travelling and Europe while I was secretly horrified to take off my shoes for the fear of a violent eruption of nasty odour. There I got a couch that was somehow far far more comfortable than the majority of beds in Central America. I slept like a princess that night.
The next morning, we made our way to Flagstaff, Arizona. On the way, it went from ochre desert to lush green desert to sandy golden desert to pine forest to snow. Within about an hour of each other. This brings this posting full circle. Back home, the terrain and climate is consistent, like our pubs – not that exciting, but you’re going to have a good, if saturated, time if you want to. Out here, everything is different. It’s like going from Tunisia to Belgium to Libya and then to Norway within a few hours of each other. This may seem normal to some people, but I’m from Europe. We like our countries consistent, contiguous and not trying to fit everything in at once.
WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE AHEAD!
But Sing Along With Me Anyway:
America Fuck Yeah – Trey Parker
America, FUCK YEAH!
Coming again, to save the mother fucking day yeah,
America, FUCK YEAH!
Freedom is the only way yeah,
Terrorist your game is through cause now you have to answer too,
America, FUCK YEAH!
So lick my butt, and suck on my balls,
America, FUCK YEAH!
What you going to do when we come for you now,
it’s the dream that we all share; it’s the hope for tomorrow
McDonalds, FUCK YEAH!
Wal-Mart, FUCK YEAH!
The Gap, FUCK YEAH!
Baseball, FUCK YEAH!
NFL, FUCK YEAH!
Rock and roll, FUCK YEAH!
The Internet, FUCK YEAH!
Slavery, FUCK YEAH!
Starbucks, FUCK YEAH!
Disney world, FUCK YEAH!
Porno, FUCK YEAH!
Valium, FUCK YEAH!
Reeboks, FUCK YEAH!
Fake Tits, FUCK YEAH!
Sushi, FUCK YEAH!
Taco Bell, FUCK YEAH!
Rodeos, FUCK YEAH!
Bed bath and beyond (Fuck yeah, Fuck yeah)
Liberty, FUCK YEAH!
White Slips, FUCK YEAH!
The Alamo, FUCK YEAH!
Band-aids, FUCK YEAH!
Las Vegas, FUCK YEAH!
Christmas, FUCK YEAH!
Immigrants, FUCK YEAH!
Popeye, FUCK YEAH!
Democrats, FUCK YEAH!
(Fuck Yeah, Fuck Yeah)
PS: I know I now need a new bannerhead now that I’m in Fatlandia. Give me a few days to come up with something sufficiently witty and I promise it’ll be worth it.