Archives for category: USA

First published 23rd July 2008 on

Well here I am half way up a mountain on the British Virgin Islands. Apparently there’s a homestead nearby called “Free Bottom”. Wahey! This is total relaxation. Some may say too much relaxation. Thankfully my half sis Dawn doesn’t get telly here as I was watching way too much shit on US telly. I did enjoy a news item entitled “autism outrage” in which a shock jock called Michael Savage had come out with this charming reflection on autistic kids “They’re just brats who haven’t been told to stop the act”. Well done on your 15 minutes of shame Mr Savage. US news makes the film “Anchorman” look like a documentary. The Christian Bale mom beating saga got way too much over attention and analysis. Kind of ironic that the most anti American act (September 11th) fit perfectly into the US TV news formula of looking cinematic and lending itself to hours of “analysis” from “experts”.

I had to forgive the hotel staff at the Hadden House in Miami for being so shit about the useless internet connection – a dollar for 5 minutes of page loading and no actual internet – when I checked out the pool – a gorgeous marble art deco affair with fountains spraying out at one end – it made me feel like Esther Williams – and more importantly like I was finally “on holiday”. Even went for a dip at 7.30am on my last day – that’s how much I enjoyed it!

Art Deco Pool - I've come over all Esther Williams

On my last full day in Miami I managed to suss out the buses to downtown and the Seaquarium so I could do the mega tourist animal exploitation bit. Right after I’d completely touristed out and stopped at “Bubba Gumps Shrimp House” in the cool of a huge banyan tree next to the bayside mall.

Bubba Gumps. Life is just a bowl of spicy shrimps.

Only in the states could they name a restuarant and dedicate it to a fictional retard. However the “shrimpin dippin broth” (shrimps – which here are fucking massive prawns – take note UK – in hot creole broth with french bread rice and coleslaw – mmmm) and key lime pie (I had to do the whole Florida thing) were bloody lovely. the American food thing still stumps me – it’s like all the meals are developed by sulky children with ADHD (“Mom! I want a sandwich” “Ok honey what do you want?” “I want er ham and er chicken and er avocado and er mayo and er salsa and er salad and er cheese and er sweet potato and er jello” “OK darling coming right up!” “And I wan fries and potato salad and coleslaw and garlic bread and and and” “Anything you want sweety pie”). How do people in the US have fucking TREATS when their whims are so consistently catered to? And more importantly how do people in Miami stay thin enough to walk around in bikinis and pants all day everywhere. Is there a liposuction pipeline from Florida to Texas?

Miami Seaquarium is obviously the poor relative of Orlando’s seaworld but it was still fun to go around and see the manatees (big whiskery barrage balloons that float around all day munching on the constant stream of grub bobbing on the surface of their pool – apparently ancient sailors mistook these behemoths for mermaids – presumably after they’d become jaded from bumming everything else animate or not that they could find). The exploitative animal shows had a nice air of cheesy desperation (“Hey salty the seal, can you help the sea rangers find who took our conch shell and replaced it with their non-biodegradable trash?” “Ark ark!” etc.). Lolita the killer whale was hugely impressive, as were the performing dolphins (who rich tourists could pay extra to rape after the show), but whilst seeing these amazing animals up close was awe inspiring it just made you sad to see them repeat endless programmed tricks for our entertainment.

Free me!

After getting the bus back to downtown I got a scary taxi (Taxi takes off, Haitian driver says “So… you wanted a taxi did you” and laughs disconcertingly. Turns out he was just joking. Er phew!) back to the hotel for yet another swim and bath.

The next day I braved the indignity of yet another search at Miami International airport (I must look like a terrorist – it’s the bra that does it), before flying through the edge of Hurrican Dolly to San Juan on Puerto Rico (the passengers clapped when we landed – (including the rude yank twats who sat in front of me playing with their mobiles throughout the flight (if we’d crashed due to this I’d have wanted to kill them before I died) – mongs!) and getting a very cute old fashioned propellor plane that dive bombed itself into Tortola airport – where I discovered that someone had searched my checked in luggage (without putting a sticker saying as much on it) and helpfully left all the pockets and zips wide open. Never mind – I have 2 weeks of relaxing and drinking rum in paradise – although given my half sis says that drink-drugging is pretty rife here perhaps I’ll just stick to the relaxing. Wish me luck!

First published17th June 2008 on

Hi there

Whilst I wait for my blimming photos to upload I….d better fill you in on where been and just why (dammit) I….ve chosen to miss the glory of Big Brother this year (I saw the opening night and I liked Mohammed the be-affroed toy demonstrator most).

On June 9th after a bargain night (hmmm sarcasm doesn..t work on Peruvian computers) at the “Premier” travelinn, Gatwick, I bid farewell to my beloved and with a huge sense of “what the fuck am I doing” set forth to New York. Upon my arrival, the place appeared to be in meltdown – with temperatures of over 100 degrees in English C. Sadly everyone remained calm and I didn….t hear any taxi drivers shouting “are you some kinda wiseguy” at each other. However I did discover that staying near to JFK, whilst it might seem sensible, is the act of a mong – as it….s fecking miles out. Undeterred I went to Manhatten on the Jamaica line (confusing?) the very afternoon I arrived, and loved the Staten Island ferry – not just because it….s free – but cos the views (complete with dragonflies buzzing around the boat) are gorgeous.

View from Staten Island Ferry (the dots are dragonflies)

I also discovered that the subway is less scary than mental. On my first trip back to the hotel, a lay preacher guy stomped up and down our carriage telling us we were all sinners and homosexuals and that he made loads of money and didn….t even need to be there, whilst everyone rolled their eyes (and I tried not to smirk). Suddenly the cloth shopping trolley of the guy opposite me started moving and it emerged that a small wiry haired terrier dog was hiding within when it poked its head out, took an instant dislike to the preacherman and snarled at him before trying to attack him, whilst being half heartedly restrained by it….s owner. I….m glad to say I wasn….t the only person who could now no longer hold in the smirk, and the preacher man hopped off after two stops worth of near terrier death.

The next night I met an old acquaintance (finally – after realising that their directions were 10 years out of date) over the water at a place called Hunters Point and found a great little bar with a very civilised beer garden where we sat in a thunder storm and got soaked watching lightning strike the empire state building. My mate was due to give me a lift home but cos I didn..t offer him a blowie he dumped me into a taxi and I eventually got back to the “Comfort” Inn.

Next day I found that it is unpleasant to negotiate JFK airport with a hangover – but also discovered the restorative qualities of the chicken noodle soup from Au Bon Pain and the Corned Beef Reuben sandwich (praise be!) from the Brooklyn deli outlet. In fact I was to become a connoiseur of airports over the next few days, with Miami scoring high for a civilised smoking area, but low on information and comfy places to “sleep” for 7 hours. Bogota “International” airport scored low on any facilities, but high on me not being taken out in a gangland killing during my stay there.

Finally I arrived at Lima where I was due to be met by a representative from the volunteer group I….m working with in Cusco. Scanning the array of eagerly scrawled taxi drivers.. placards at Arrivals, I couldn..t see any signs resembling the one I….d been asked to look out for, and my heart sank. I tried the number left by the volunteers representative to no avail, so decided to take some maverick action, and approached the airport customer information desk with a sense of trepidation.