Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

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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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Nevada : Burner Express

September 5, 2014

P.s. Oldish tales

Darling You

We are heading off on the burner express. I have two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my bag and all is well in the world.

The playa was flooded and they stopped all entry to all vehicles yesterday. I went back to my new home at Stan and Jan’s and chilled out, walked the dog, skyped their daughter/my mate Jenny.

As we stood in a long queue and found out about the cancellation, a pair walked up and down (we checked in yesterday to avoid more delays today) saying people were welcome to throw a mattress down on the floor of their room if they could not afford or find elsewhere. Back up plan : pool party at the grand Sierra 7pm.

Stan lent me his 4wd, probably not instilled with great
confidence as I asked him to remind me which side of the road I am supposed to stay on. I made it downtown eventually via some massive highways and found two blokes walking in as I did, clearly burners.

“Nice outfits fellas.”

One had a tophat and massive lampchop sideburns, the other’s suit reminded me of that screen on a TV station when there is no TV. They asked if I was headed to Lex. ¿Que? Thievery Corporation was playing. I like Thievery Corporation and ducked my head in for a while, now dusted with a golden glittery bindy over my third eye from a bloke out by the pool who’d slammed us all with one. The pool party was cancelled by the way due to lightning.

I had a battery problem with my car years back and instead of changing the battery I lifted the bonnet each time I wanted to restart the engine. Bit stressful if I stalled at the lights but it was ok, and the Thievery Corporation cd was eternally stuck in the CD player. That was until the golf ball hailstorm hit Sydney and I lost the car, the player and the cd for good.

I made some new friends at the pool bar and spotted a girl with a sign on her backpack asking “please please please, can I have a burning man ticket?”.

A few hours earlier I had received word from my mate saying he’d no longer be coming, and so sold it to her for what I’d paid for it. I am now a goddess. Last week I went hunting for tickets for a mate and they had tripled in price. More karmic brownie points for me.

I thought my mate had been “incarcerated by love” all weekend and thus no communication on his part. I congratulated him. Then, at 530am this morning awake with jetlag, I realised he had been “incarcerated, love”, sprung with narcotics in Wyoming. Oh no, poor bugger. I know no more.

In the queue yesterday I met Robin whose camp does foam performances. Showers are forbidden at Burning Man, so he says, and I think I shall never shower again, from here on in I shall have only foam performances. His camp is called faux mirage and he tells me it is hidden away, at 230 and e. I am to get there early.

On Sunday Jan and Stan took me out to lunch in Lake Tahoe. Once again my hosts are spectacular, this pair have been treating me like a daughter they’ve not seen nor fed for a decade. I mean, to give me a car? I have my own section downstairs and the comfiest bed since Argentina. Luxurious times in the ‘burbs and I have been barely allowed to clear the table.

And they have the most beautiul hound, Shadow. Half golden lab, half huskie.

The girl, Ebony, who sits beside me here on the bus is also in the faux mirage camp. And we just worked out that her Italian husband will be a sound engineer for the music festival I am volunteering at in October, Cubamera. She will introduce me, wicked. Now I just have to find them amonst the 70,000. She has sensational, long plaited black and blonde dreadlocks so shouldn’t be too impossible to spot.

This is on a phone and I am about to lose reception so forgive the rough copy but thought I’d best get it in if I could.

Lots of love to you

k xxo

Sent from a telephone

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Edinburgh to Reno

September 5, 2014

p.s Oldish tales

Darling You

How are you?

I am ok but I didn’t get too far from Edinburgh yesterday.

It was a comedy of errors throughout which I somehow managed to stay in a good mood. It could have been really dreadful.

I was the last on the flight and an Italian woman was sat in my seat. Reluctantly they placed me in the front row, with the front row food. Yippee.

There was a lightning storm on arrival into Schipol, Amsterdam. We were able to land but not taxi all the way to the gate. We waited for 40 minutes on the tarmac, with many eager to get to their connecting flights, myself included.

I get to the gate and the Delta flight to Seattle is delayed by 3.5 hours.

I get my 10 euro voucher with the masses and find a place to stretch.

Stretch. Linger. Stretch. Sushi.

It is half an hour before boarding and I head for the gate. Empty. Gate closed. Oh dear. The board still says D7, and to go to the gate but the KLM women say it has been cancelled and I must stay in Holland for the evening.

I wait in one queue.

And am told after some time I am in the wrong one. But she gives myself and 6 others the hot tip to avoid the massive queue of people trying to get a room for the night.

We all end up on the same bus with the same bus driver who went 40 minutes the wrong way by which stage we are all besties.

Dinner cafeteria style but a swanky hotel to please us all. Danish Julia was very grumpy as she too is going to Burning Man and is responsible for not just her ticket. She handed out reese’s pieces.

The Alaskan brothers in the seat before me were coming home from Quatar where each year they repair musical instruments.

Canadian John knew exactly what was in our goodies bag as it was the second day his Seattle flight had been cancelled. He was in exceptionally good humour considering, and told a tale of how he’d hung out with a 90 year old US veteran the night before and they nearly got mugged together but fought them off.

Then Julie shared her mugging attempt tale. We were on the edge of our seats, as we sipped her Danish liquor no longer able to be carried through to Burning Man as she’d now entered Holland. A man had followed her home, she couldn’t find her keys, her shoulder against the door, a quick release to throw him off and elbowed in the ribs. Terrifying tale.

These tales all came out as we played “I have never”, a drinking game I had seen for the first time in a skit the previous day in the Fringe. That’s one way to get to know your fellow passengers “I have never paid for sex”, “I have never tried heroin”, “I have never been to Burning Man” .. and if you have you must sip.

It is a while since I have been in Holland. We were on the outskirts of The Hague and Canada John said there was a coffee shop nearby. It wasn’t so close and we’d since moved to the casino/bar next door. It was fun to hang out but the bar could have been anywhere so I headed off for an adventure.

I asked the waiters where to go and the taxi driver took me to “happy smile” where I bought a teeny bit of weed for the gang and rolled a racehorse. It was a pretty seedy place and I tried to fit in as best as I could…amongst men with heavy Eastern European Dutch accents all smoking spliffs. I caught some friendly smiles nearer my departure.

They looked a little horrified when I asked where the tram was located (I had the hotel’s address and 20 euro).

I got lost.

And there was no-one, almost no-one, to ask.

Someone I stopped on a bike wrote down the name of a street for me. Each time they said it was simple,…just go straight straight.

So I did.

Lost. Always so lost.

I found the tram tracks in the end and, looking for the stop, I realised the tram was never coming because there was a massive fence closing it off ‘under repair.’

Uh oh, mucked this one up a bit. Lonely large streets with only the very occasional car zooming past. I had no idea which way to even begin walking the 6 kilometres back to the Grand Winston.

It was problematic for only about 15 irresponsible minutes before Vincent the Savior rescued me. He was going to call me a taxi and said he was actually going back that way. Wicked wicked. Thank you Vincent, you saved me from bad.

They were all still at it when I returned. I was probably gone just under 2 hours and there was now a jam in session with the Alaskans (who are missing a gig at their mates’ wedding), Hussein the flautist from Lebanon heading to visit a mate in Portland, and another chick was singing along.

There was Polar Bear also going to Burning Man, who had worried about me (I’d been worried about me) and I chimed in with them when the Saints started marching in… there was lots of thigh slapping ..it was ridiculously silly and funny and I shall remember it for all time.

All my love

k xxo

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Returning from Black Rock City

September 4, 2014

Darling You

 

How are you?

I am terrific and in a bit of a rush. Got an overnight train to catch and the Pneumatic Diner in downtown Reno to visit before I board.

Plans have changed.

There aren’t so many apples awaiting me in Hermosillo (bad drought) and I have developed a desire to climb rocks.  So I just bought a one way train ticket to Utah having been told by some young base jumpers from New Orleans about Moab, Utah. I seem to be oriented well for exploring part of this beautiful country, with its friendly people and its very handsome and flirtatious men, and it appears I am in no rush to jump down into Mexico so to Moab I go.

Give me two weeks of yankee tucker though and I’ll no doubt be sprinting for the border.

I have two posts ready to go pre Black Rock City which I shall send in a bit and will catch you up on the festival in time. It was magnificent.  Burning Man takes place in Black Rock City, by the way, if I have confused you.

But for now, know that I am alive and well and happy and nervous again, for after all my new mates, I am on my own once more and it always throws me into a mild spin of semi-excited, semi terrified mode.  Utah? Who’d have thunk it.

And Colorado is just next door.

Anyone reading this with any mates in the area please do hook a sister up.

 

All my love

Kirsty xxo