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North America : Chicago to Mexico

September 28, 2014

Hello my darling

How are you?

I am on an aeroplane bound for Mexico City and I am well.

I was on a plane bound for Northern Mexico one week ago but Hurricane Odile destroyed Cabo San Lucas and I was stopped in Dallas en route. I was headed for Todos Santos which is near Cabo.

American Airlines sent all the honeymooners from my flight to Cancun and told me to return in two days should I still wish to catch the flight down.

Considering Americans get about 7 seconds of holiday a year I guess you can’t blame them all for getting testy, but I did feel a little sorry for all the new husbands. Some of those chicks were frightful.

Natural disasters and cheap tickets equal zero airline accommodation so I ditched Dallas and headed immediately for Austin, on a bus the airport shuttle driver begged me not to touch. “You’ll be the only non-hispanic. Those buses crash each week. They change their names almost as often. Are you mad?”

Of course it was fine and I said “buenos tardes” to my fellow passengers as I jumped on. Imagine boarding a bus in Sydney and calling out “g’day.” You’d be locked up. But in Latino world you get a collective greeting in return.

A dubbed version of Men in Black blared away and the old girl next to me was headed to a funeral as I think was most of the bus.

I grabbed a taco from the Mexican joint next door just before we set off and said “buen provecho” to the large group of men staring at me. I have learned that fear or awkwardness is often melted by direct verbal communication and I suppose I did look a little out of place.

I was held up once in La Boca and forever after would shout big hellos to everyone I passed, as though they were my great friends and would rush to my rescue should anything bad happen. It never did again.

La Boca is a little famous for being a lot dodgy and I was sent there to collect people when once we cancelled a tour.

Two women turned up. One from Melbourne who was super chilled out and dealt with the news decently and forgivingly. The other was Nervous Nelly from Boston, who’d lied to her family about visiting La Boca and shook with terror at all times. She really wanted a sneaky peak and while I wasn’t very familiar with the tour at the time, I had an hour up my sleeve so took them up to Pasaje Garibaldi. There had been an ‘urban intervention’ and it would give them a snippet of both Boca and the street art scene. It is just off the tourist strip and the cops won’t enter.

I started on about a couple of the artists I knew.

“So this is Pastel, the architect..”, pointing high up the wall to his version of Buster Keaton’s house from One Week and then noticed some commotion out of the corner of my eye.

A boy was annoying Madame Boston so I said “Ché, dejanos en paz, eh”. “Dude, leave us in peace.”

He thrusts his chest right at me and says “Plata, plata, dame plata.” He was after money.

I was working and he was annoying so I told him to fuck off. And just as the f of the off landed on my lips I realised he had, or was pretending to have, a gun down his shorts. My fear kicked in but it was too late. I’d been too tuff. He apologised and left us to it. Amazing.

He walked in the direction we too wanted and Boston was freaking out; panting, terrified, and continuously looking back to check where he was. Melbourne remained the coolest kid on the block and I thank you for that wherever you may be. I was trying to stay cool but my heart was thumping fast.

While we three girls slowly headed further into Dodgyville, I turned to see where he was and ended up in a staring competition with him. I won and off he went. I might add that I was wearing a bright red dress and lipstick for I had other plans for that Saturday afternoon. Tuff.

So my Austin mate is Moya and she came on a graffitimundo tour with me once upon a time. We finish every tour at Post Street Bar because hidden at the back is Hollywood in Cambodia; a gallery run by six Argentine street artists. After a beer Moya asked if we could hang out while she was in town, and so we did.

When I checked in with her from Dallas Fortworth she was in Detroit with her fella looking at property and wrote that I was super welcome, please please come, she’d be back the next day, and that I should let myself in and stay in her daughter’s room who was at dad’s for the week with her brother and sister.

Austin is just marvellous and all my new friends think I am moving there, just as soon as they find me a husband to get the government off my back. But I am not. I have promised Sydney 2 years and I plan to stay longer if all goes according to my very lightly sketched plan.

Their place is old and magnificent. A crumbling, free standing house known as a Nola house as it is like those from New Orleans Louisiana. There were massive trees shading all the ‘porches’ and wide white chairs swinging at the front and back, just like the movies.

And addresses like East 13th make it so much harder for me to get lost.

Everyone was in a total love zone.

Moya is madly in love with Colin and Colin is madly in love with Moya.

Her flatmate Deborah is madly in love with Bryan and Bryan is madly in love with Deborah.

It should have been sickening but it was really nice to be surrounded by lovers, true true lovers, kissing all about the place and just so very happy with how it’s all worked out for them.

We did group yoga classes in the mornings to tricky podcasts.

Deborah took me one evening to her regular singing jam and another morning to her regular Ecstatic Dance get together. The jam was cool, yet a desperate reminder that I really must learn the words to a song or two. Did I never listen to an album growing up? I could count Madonna and Kylie but ssshhhhh. I chimed in with Blue Moon and Pulp Fiction’s Let’s Stay Together. But Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ was one I wish I’d known.

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind.
There was something so pleasant about that place.

The fellow who sang it did a super splendid job solo though, hitting all those high notes and then casually picking up one of his 12 harmonicas while the two guitarists took it for a spin. Very nice times.

By the way, if you remember from an earlier letter my idea of singing Nature Boy on a quiet corner of Burning Man’s Black Rock City….and if you’re wondering, did I do it? No. I did not. It didn’t seem quite the thing to do. But I did sing it to three unsuspecting mini audiences throughout the week. Very intimate (not romantically) and a little intoxicated. Of course I forgot some of the words.

In case you don’t know the song I’m referring to :

There was a boy
A very strange, enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy
And sad of eye
But very wise was he.

And then one day
One lucky day he passed my way
And while we spoke of many things
Fools and kings
This he said to me
“The greatest thing
You’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved in return.”

It puts in me in tears in the opening credits of Moulin Rouge every time. It’s ‘cos I know she’s going to die and I don’t even like Nicole.

And I’m learning it on the piano. Well I was, and I will again when I hit Sydney.

Did I tell you that I’ve organised to continue my piano lessons via Skype? Bit of a different way to go about things, but why on earth not? Marcelo Katz and I tested it out from his house to mine one day and it seemed to work ok. And it’ll be good for my Español.

Also, if you were wondering about the Sufi Post?? A hit. A total hit. I loved it, and have kept it going. Moya, Colin, Deborah and Bryan should all be getting a Hafiz poem the day after tomorrow. As will their acupuncturist mate Peachy. As will the handsome chap at the paleo food van who I met when completely gaga after 2 hours of acupuncture. Aaah, acupuncture. When it is good, it is so so good.

It seems that every American I meet is polyamorous and on a paleo diet. I am not quite sure I have my head around the diet but I get the polyamorous bit. Untested by yours truly, Deborah approached me quietly one day after I’d been chatting to her beau. “It is ok if Bryan flirts with you, it’s totally fine, we’re in an open relationship.” I had no interest at all in her man but wondered if that might sound insulting so just mumbled “ok”. The paleo business on the other hand I have not got my head around. Hunter gatherer style, think cave man, avoid all grains.

As the Sufi Post at Burning Man, I would ask the punters if I might read them a poem. I’d slip my Sufi Post sign over my head, read it, then ask “would you like me to post that to you?” and reach for my miniature envelopes. I went a bit gung-ho on day one reciting poetry to half of Camp Anita and spent half the day writing poetry. With so much else to do coupled with my late arrival I took it easy after that and by Friday took down real addresses instead. I have been writing Hafiz’ beautiful words ever since.

BRC3PO was my chosen post office. Black Rock City’s 3 o’clock Post Office. Would you believe the city had three competing? I met a bloke who worked there one evening and he assured me their service was the very best so I trusted him.

And in Austin I saw an electric car station for the first time. I mean, a place for you to plug your car into to recharge. Seriously, am I that behind or does this sound like the foreign future to you too?

Last night I hung out on a Texan bridge waiting for the bats to pass overhead. Last summer I heard a whisper that some people were trying to move the Sydney bats on. Move them on? But the bats were first. Have you heard that too?

Yesterday I watched small boys play indoor soccer. Moya’s was the champ and we all felt very sorry for his team mate Milo. “It’s yours Milooooooo!!! Own it! Oooooowwwnnnn it!!!! MILOOOOO!!” The poor child almost kicked one in and his mother screamed out “that’s it! That’s it!!! You just need a taste!!”

This Ecstatic Dance business was after the football, and before we ate ‘barbeque’, which neither you nor your mates help to cook. Delicious and messy meat literally slipping off the bone.

So, Ecstatic Dance is basically a sober dance party on a Sunday morning with smiley people who might give you a sudden hug. I don’t think it is my thing but I am pleased I can erase it from my curiosity bank. I tried to get into it, sat it out when the thumping house beats kicked in, and when I dared myself back in to the fold, a stinky, sweaty man came and gave me a long, stinky, sweaty hug. Bit too long for my liking, but I hugged back because that’s what I’d signed up for. After he left a bloke clad in royal purple started ‘contact’ dancing with me. I think that is what it was as I’d heard all about ‘contact’ in Buenos Aires where they’re all about it. He rolled his back and body around mine and didn’t quite get the hint when I tried to pull away. My back wasn’t strong enough to be honest, and I was pushing back from the nearby wall to gather more strength. Eventually I said “too much buddy” whereupon he started to hum “gently, gently” and moved us onto hand to hand energy work. Again I played along but then he wanted us to touch hands, then he stroked my face and then put his hand near my crotch and on my hip. That was me done and I sat down to join the others “omm” and have ocean waves wash over me. Finally the hundred of us sat in a circle to say our names whereupon I discovered that the sweaty hugger was Divinely Present and the face stroker was Wonderfully Lost. I was just me.

Austin was also full of house cracking thunderstorms, swimming holes, a reminder that I like experimental electronic music if I get to lie down while listening, and lots and lots of good conversations with modern thinkers. Lovely.

So…..you may be wondering about Chicago. It didn’t work out. I probably ought to have stayed in Colorado but you can’t get it right every time. And had I not gone to Chicago I’d not have ended up in Austin because I’d not have run away to Calgary and I’d not have taken Carla’s advice to visit Todos Santos, so I’d not have been stuck in Dallas and so it goes.

The fellow, who I seem unwilling to name, met me with his band of merry trippers and all was ok for a second. Then I realised this fun shamanic charmer was a grumpy alcoholic stoner trashbag mess. I managed two nights in his toxic company and bailed.

I did manage to get a little snippet of Chicago though.

I sat on a beach gazing at Lake Michigan, I went to an excellent design show, and I wandered downtown amongst those extraordinary and colossal buildings. And I went to a comedy gig at Second City where Saturday Night Live and Mike Myers were born. I needed some humour back in my world.

I hung out one evening with my ex-neighbours from Buenos Aires who are great. They took me out for negronis for old times’ sake and the best ramen ever in the West Loop. They had been my back up plan in case the dude turned sour but unfortunately had to leave for weekend weddings so couldn’t stick around to play. I didn’t camp with them because they’d given up their downtown apartment in exchange for Argentina, and were living in the sticks with mom and dad; oddly in the same neighbourhood as Macdonald’s main headquarters which they say is nice.

The day I left the trashy shaman I wandered through the Mexican neighbourhood Pilsen in hopes of finding a noticeboard or I don’t know quite what. I’d had to escape is all I know. Bit of an odd move wheeling my little bag up the one street, going in and out of cafes and shops asking about potential hidden rooms for rent. One kind girl working in a cafe offered me her sofa, but not till midnight, by which stage I’d found a last minute cancellation on airbnb. Thank God. What an angel though, I knew Pilsen had a nice ring to it. To tell you the truth, I spent many hours that week looking for a room or an apartment that wasn’t a Hilton or 30 miles out of town for my visit coincided with the Riot Festival and a massive conference. It was a bit booooring and stressful and is no doubt as dull to read as it is to write so my sincere apologies for being dreary.

When I arrived that night in the Swedish neighbourhood Andersonville my bag handle decided to bust. Good. Great. I was handed a glass of red by Jacob who works in the makeup industry, who immediately set to work on my eyes. All a girl ever needs to get back on track is a glass of a plonk and a laugh with a camp make-up artist and his new lover. Thanks fellas, I’ll catch you in Chicago for round 2 when I am not temporarily blinded by the scent of romance.

The other half of the flat, Melanie, was also terrific. And she is soon headed to Australia for 6 months so hopefully we’ll hang out. She loves the joint and dated a boy in Perth for a while and spoke fondly of goon in the backyard.

We were all sad that they had to boot me out on Friday morning and, as I was desperate not to stay in lonely, fancy hotel rooms, I bailed for Calgary for a quick reset with old mates, a few more glasses of vino and some of Carla’s amazing home cooked food.

And a gopher museum.

I wheeled the bag in the rain to the mom and pop hardware store where that fine chap persevered for a good 20 minutes and fixed it. Legend.

And now I am in the sky leaving what has been one wonderful and eventful month in the United States of America. Cheers for having me team, see you next year in Nevada. I hope.

I always ramble on and on and never remember to ask how you’re travelling? Is everything going ok in your world? Are you happy and well? What’s news?

Lots of love

Kirsty xxo

p.s When this machine stops misbehaving I’ll try to put up some photos

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2 comments

  1. Darling Kitty Roo, so enjoying your adventures! beautifully written. Looking forward to the next post my friend. Clairey Rebel xx


    • Thanks Clairey. See you soon.xxo



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