Sunday, 8 August 2010

Ok... so I don't think i'll keep this blog going because i've just started up a tumblr that I like a little better... but of course i'll leave it here for you eager readers to have a little look!

For now... have a little read of the old stuff and check out my photos so far -

Other than that, head over to HERE to check out my more recent work!!

But for now...

Love always,


Saturday, 28 July 2007

Homeward Bound.

So that's it. I am officially off the Suntrek tour. I have visited friends in Boston and I have, by now, somehow found my way to Newark airport with a broken bag and a tired soul. It has been a huge adventure, I'm not going to lie, and I am ready for it to end now. It is most defiantly time to come home!

Where did I leave you? With a bit of a Mexican salsa I imagine, well now I'm screaming out at you from New York - New Yizzle to the gangstars I talked to last night. Right now my trek leader is using the computer right next to me, so I will hold back from taking it out on him for the moment. I just kid. He was probably the only 'normal' person on the tour. After leaving Mexico I thought I would, finally, be able to just speak plain and simple English to people. The big guy upstairs had other plans for me... In my team were:

1 German
1 Austrian
A family of 5 from Denmark
1 from Switzerland
And finishing off with 1 person from Korea.

None of them spoke English as there first language, although they did speak it quite well, its just not the same as being able to chat to good old trustworthy Brits.

I wrote loads more down on some paper whilst we were having a long drive in the van but that is at the back of the luggage store cupboard. Now its not that I am that lazy to get it, its just that there are another 30 peoples cases between me and it. I think I will just wait for now...

So, I'm going to save this as a draft, and when I get to that paper - when I eventually do battle the jungle of luggage, I will update this bad boy and get it posted in a public fashion.

For now; its good to be back.

Love always,



And I'm back in the room, smoothly sliding into the same chair that was previously accommodating my buttocks and my fingers are gently tapping away, lovingly creating this blog. In the time, represented by the stars above - are the numbers of stars significant? - since the first half of the blog I have been to Boston airport and visited some old family friends. It was so awesome to see both the families and, although it was only a day there, I really miss them now... I actually felt quite sad coming back on the plane. My love goes out to them and I hope SOOOO much that I will see them, and Spermy, again soon!

Now, I believe it is because of you, dear reader, that Friday evening was so exhausting, emotional and down right 'worst evening of my life' material. Maybe I should explain a bit...

On Friday I missed two flights.

There. I said it. Happy? I was all ready to say goodbye to my tour team and packed to head off to Boston. I asked in plenty of time how to get to JFK airport and the person told me, gave me the instructions and said it would take about 40 mins. So my flight left at 4.30pm and I had to be there one hour early for check in and all that nonsense. I left at 2.00pm from the hostel which gave me plenty of time to get there. I got the subway down to '42nd Street/Port Authority' station and changed for the one that should have taken me to the air train. Ohhhhh no. There was some engineering works and so it took me down another branch. I got off the subway and went back some stops and got on the next train. It did the same again. Wooooo... I asked someone (now, I should have done that straight away) and I hadn't gone back enough stops. I went back one more than I did before and I got the right train and managed to get to the Air Train. I looked at my watch. 3.30pm.

I didn't make it.

I was all in a tizz wozz but I managed to scramble onto a self service check in. 'You are too late to check in' came up on the screen. You think? Thankfully it just gave me the option to get onto a later flight. I was able to get a seat on a plane going an hour later. I called the Ashby's who I was staying with and explained what had happened feeling extremely stupid. Niiice. I walked around to the departure lounge and shoved in the iPod. The plane was delayed. Twice. After the second delayed announcement I don't really know what happened. Apparently they were calling it out to board the plane as usual. They were paging me because I wasn't there yet. But nothing happened. I was about 20 meters from the boarding entrance, and I missed the plane. It wasn't until I realised nothing had happened did I get up and look at the departure boards. Flight 4616 wasn't there any more. Tentatively I went to the desk and asked where it had gone. 'Sir, that plane has left. I was paging you. You have a seat on the next one boarding at 10.40.' It was 8.00 at this point. It was another call to the Ashby's feeling 10 times more the idiot. Ian had already left to pick me up, thinking that I was on the flight that had left... The rest is now history. I got there in the end, and now I'm back in New York, and you have heard already about me missing them.

I want to take this chance to thank you valued readers, well at least the readers that have read them religiously and most importantly the ones that enjoyed them, for reading my thoughts and daily actions over the past 2 months. You are all awesome and I cant wait to see you when I get home. If you have been one of the regulars go on, leave a comment on this one just so I know who you are. Thanks again for reading!!

It was quite funny being with all the Europeans all the time, there English wasn't so good so I had a sneaky giggle at how they pronounced some words:

  • Chewlery for Jewelery
  • Beats for Beads
  • Skettle for Schedule.
  • Gravity for Graffiti
  • 'I like watching paintings'

There were loads more, but I lost the paper I was writing them all down on :(

I have also found a way of being instantly accepted into a group. Just walk up to a random group of people who are posing for a photo and offer to take one of the whole group. I guarantee that within 30 seconds the whole group will be smiling back at you.

The average amount of time we drove was about 5 hours a day. On two of the days we drove for 10 hours. At the time I just accepted that as something we had to do but in reality that is like driving tip to tip of little old United Kingdom! And that was just a tiny part of the States.... UK is small, but we can act tough. Right?

There is no way that I can update you about the whole time I have spent in America. That update from when I went to the beach was to long itself, and that was only 5 days. I dread to think how long it would take to do that for this, and I have seen ALOT more stuff. When I am home I'm sure you will coax out all the tales and tribulations of my terrific travelling time. Alot of t's there. BUT, just for you I have broken down some of the things I have done for you. I'm an amazing guy. I have no hope that it will give you a good picture of what I have been doing - but its a start.

  • I have been away for 2 months old.
    Which is 10 weeks.
    Or 69 days.
    Or 1,674 hours.
    Or 100,482 minutes.
    Or 6,028,926 seconds.
  • I have been through 16 States and by the end of the trip 3 Countries.
  • In 10 weeks I have been on 8 different planes from 6 different Airlines.
  • On the ground I have travelled way over 4000 miles, accounting to near 100 hours driving in a Mini Bus. Resulting in 1 numb bum.
  • During the drive I have read 5 books. 3 of those books in 6 days. And yes, I did read Harry Potter. Took me 2 1/2 days.
  • More Hot Chocolates in 10 weeks than I will have in a lifetime.
  • My towel has never been completely dry.
  • I have become extremely attached to my iPod. It has never been as loved before.
  • I have half as many socks as I came with.
  • I have developed a phobia of Europeans. Started out as Claustrophobia.
  • Resorted to pointing at stuff I want. A mixture of Spanish and European language is drifting around in my head. English seems to have hidden somewhere.
  • Experience blog withdrawal symptoms.
  • No Money. New Guitar.
  • I don't sleep in cars. I can now run off about 5 hours sleep.
  • I'm a Mosquito 'All You Can Eat' buffet.
  • I have cooked for 11 people 3 times.
  • I have washed my clothes 5 times. Showered every day. Impressed?
  • I don't have any clean clothes now. Good luck Mum.
  • I have the same single pair of shoes I came with. My glasses aren't broken.
  • I have taken too many photos.
  • I haven't taken enough good photos.
  • I have developed a craving for Englishness.
  • I have been camping for 3 weeks without a pillow. Just a cotton bud would be amazing to sleep on.
  • I have loads of unforgettable memories and experiences.

But right now none of that maters.

Tomorrow, I'm coming home.

Love always,


Saturday, 7 July 2007

I left my heart in San Francisco. Well, the blogging part of my heart.

Well there it is the last blog that I will do for a while. I am going to hit the big 40 with more gusto than a gusty gust, but still it is practically impossible for me to continue these on over the course of the coming 3 weeks. There will be a brief update in New York, but expect it to be brief as I am in New York and there is not really that much of a temptation to lock myself into a room to write to you greedy monkeys. However much you are greedy, you are also love able monkeys - monkeys that, when I am in New York, I will be very close to coming home to a fact that, in no doubt, I will become as excited as a monkey.

At the moment I am sitting in a proper 'Internet Cafe' well, its pretty much a Cafe with 2 computer for Internet users, so the cafe is the more dominant. I don't know what street I am on, and I'm sure its going to be a long walk (in some direction, I will find out in a jiffy I'm sure) to get back to the hostel. I guess I need a fairly good sleep tonight as well - I'm meeting the tour people tomorrow at 8. Don't you just LOVE early mornings...

I will just jump straight into my activities today, if you dont mind. It was the same wake up that I have told you about before, the pancakes were still free, although still in there less impressive and infinitely less tasty liquid state. I think I did quite a good job at the old flat cakes today - well, at least they were edible, that's all I was proud at. I drowned them again in maple syrup. Perfic. Today I chatted and helped (I have done it again, is there a Helping Noble prize? Its mine I tell ye!) a Chinese guy whilst monitoring my pancakes. I'm, once again, a good lad!

After filling my face I headed down to the stop I got off the sightseeing bus yesterday. I finished off the route back up to Fisherman's Wharf so that I got the whole of the 'Downtown Loop'. The second half of the tour wasn't really that impressive. The stuff that I saw today I had already seen parts of on the previous part of the tour. Ho Hum, I needed to get back to the wharf so that I could secure a trip to Alcatraz. The first ticket guy I asked said that the tour was going to cost $85. NO THANK YOU! I walked about 2 mins up the road and managed to get the same tour for $55. It is still pretty expensive, but it was the cheapest I could find it after walking around for a bit so I went for it. I definitely wanted to get over there, so it was fine by me. I met some guy at the ticket stand, we both had to wait around for the main boss man to come along with the tickets, and we talked about random stuff. It was funny because he was the guy that I was standing in front of when waiting to board the ferry and we kept bumping into each other all over the island. Good times, if you were here you would find it hilarious too... There was, actually, quite a funny guy that works on the sea front. Well, I say work - its really just a clever beggar. What he does is get a couple of branches from a tree and sits on the sidewalk pretending to be a bush. As people walk by they don't really pay much attention to him and he jumps out at them. Some of the frightened reactions were classic! Again, good times. I once tried to get a sneaky photo of him, but he saw me poised with the camera and he said that I had to make a donation to take a photo of him. I didn't bother. I got the photo later anyway.

After I bought the tickets I went over to get a tour on a little boat around under the Golden Gate Bridge, it was still real foggy - but I had to get over there sometime, and I took way too many photos. Then we headed around Alcatraz island and again I took photos even though I knew I was going to be back there again. It was a nice little tour and it was good to get away from the hustle and bustle. I got back to San Fran and did a little shopping. I got a T-Shirt, just because I had too, and later on in the day I bought some Levi's. They were only $40 which is near enough 20 pounds. In England you would be lucky to get them for 40 pounds right? So I'm happy with them and I think I will need them some point in my travels. Obviously not when I'm going through the desert, but sometime, when the time is right I will whip out the jeans and all around me will look in in envy and awe.

I cant really remember what happened after that, I think I just got some food and because time was getting on just had a little wander up and down pier 39 - it was, once again, awesome - and then kept going down the bay to pier 33 to wait in line to board the Alcatraz ferry. It was awesome going over there, and a little creepy really because all those notorious criminals had wandered along the path I was taking: Al Capone, 'The Birdman' - No matter whatever anyone tells me 'The Birdman' conjures up Big Bird from Sesame Street and many other dastardly men. At one point I was leaning on a wall and I was thinking about all the other people that had lent there, both tourists, criminals and prison guards. It was quite a humbling thought. When we got up to the cell house you are given some head phones and you are led about the place with them in your ear giving you there insights and alcatrazy facts. It was all good and I have learnt alot of words and stuff. Yeah. My English is bettering. I took plenty of photos and right now they are crawling onto the Internet. They are crawling because I cant install the uploader thing on this computer, and so I have to upload the photos onto facebook 6 at a time. I only have 24 mins left and I'm trying to finish the blog and get those up. I don't want to stop the blog half way though as I will loose my rhythmical flow. Yes, deep in my head there is some kind of flow, its just that sometimes it goes through the ramble filter which mucks it all up. Like I said there are photos going up, so just hold onto your horses and you will be able to understand more about my day from them.

After alcatraz I was feeling a bit peckish again so I popped into old faithful Maccy D's and got myself a McFlurry - Oreo flavour! They even have a choice of size in the McFlurrys! Naturally I went for a large one, I'm a real man who needs real big food. The haircut guy yesterday told me to go visit Coit Tower, so that is what I did. I stumbled around the back streets for a bit until I found the steps that lead up the hill to the tower. When I got to the top I wasn't really that impressed with the view, there were loads of trees around the summit so you couldn't really look that far. I was about to go down the steps again when I realised I was at the back of the tower, I went around the front and found that you could go up the tower! I went for it and from the top the views over San Francisco were amazing! It was a little foggy, and my camera battery died pretty soon after my ascent, but I got a couple of snaps up there! I came down and remembered I saw 'City Lights Bookstore' on the bus coming into the Wharf. This is an extremely famous bookstore that my amazing sister told me I should stop at. I did as I was told because I don't want her to beat me up when I get home, I'm going camping with her without Mum and Dad - so there is a huge opening there for her to get her own back on me... I went in and started talking to some man in there about a message written on the door. It simply said "I am the door". This man commented it should be "I am a door" as 'the door' implies there is only one, that, perhaps, it is more superior than the other doors. I sort of politely laughed and agreed and that was it, I was sucked into a conversation. He was a very bright man and so I did like talking to him, its just that I popped in to have a quick look around, and now I was having a lecture... oh well. After that store I asked someone for directions to the nearest Internet Cafe and the day comes right up to date.

Its the first time I have been able to get a pic of the day up for a while, so there you go. A nice little view of Alcatraz Island with a couple of fishermen. I haven't got you a song of the day, mostly because not one single song stood out to me. I'm afraid I am horribly unprepared for this blog, and it feels a bit rushed as I only have 9.41 mins left. If I forced out a song of the day it would be a bit laboured - its better when they just come naturally to you.

So that's the end really, I have nothing more to say, nor any energy to conjure up some thinky thoughts that are locked away in my mind. You may have guessed but again I am extremely tired and not really looking forward to the walk back to the hostel, but it is something I have to do - so I have to stop moaning.

Thank you so much to the people that have been regularly reading this scrap book of the mind of Phil. It was for you guys that I am writing it. Well, obviously really - I wouldn't really be writing it for someone else because there wouldn't really be much point.

Until I write to you again goodbye and like many times before:

Love always,


Friday, 6 July 2007

Day Two: Guitars, Walking, Hills, Not really that funny.

HI. I'm tired today so its going to another short one. I think that's fair really, I have been walking around this crazy city all day. I'm pretty sure this city doesn't have a clue what it wants. The hills are all over the place. These rant just little pathetic hills... these are steep hills! I should know - I challenged my self to run up one. Mission successful! WOO.

Today was a busy crazy mess of a day. I woke up quite late because last night I watched 3 movies (it was movie night, WITH free popcorn. 'Free popcorn' only meant one bowl of popcorn between about 30 people, but still, its the thought that counts.) After the unsure shower - I didn't really know the process of the shower arrangement. I assumed I couldn't walk about in my boxers - the usual get-into-the-shower gear and so I just put on an old t-shirt and wandered down the hallway. First off, actually, I nipped downstairs to get some of the free soap and shampoo at reception. Result. I have run out of that kind of stuff, so I'm going to have to get some products before I start my crazy America travels. Well, the America travels have begun already as I am in America, but you get the point.

It was free, all you can eat pancakes this morning at breakfast and I thought perfect! A nice easy breakfast were I can just sit back and be served. Not so fast! All they did was make the batter. Now, you Clarke people know that I never make pancakes, I honestly think I have not made more than 3 on my own. Its a good thing that the batter was ready because that is completely unexplored area on my part! The batter that was 'assigned' to my stove was REALLY thick, so the first one that I attempted was a really fat one (still quite nice!) then the second I spread the batter love about a bit on the old saucepan and it was looking good. Then it came to the flip. The pancake broke up into a lot of little people. I didn't have the strength to start again so I just cooked off the little bits and I was done. Drowning it all in maple syrup I guzzled it all down. Nice.

First off I set out to go visit Guitar Centre to hunt out the guitar I'm going to buy in the states. The people there couldn't be less helpful. As soon as I said I was just looking, and even though I was going to buy the guitar in a Guitar Centre store, and I was not going to buy it here they just pointed me in the direction of the acoustic guitars. The choice was good, but they only had one of the guitars in store so I couldn't compare them next to each other. In the end I just sat playing a guitar for a while. I was playing Blackbird, by the Beatles, and some other guy started playing it. Whenever he stopped I started playing it again. He didn't show any interest in me, but I was having a whale of a time. I found some tabs for the song Classical Gas, so I was playing about with that for a bit. Eventually I gave up guitarism and walked on down the street, destination: The Waterfront.

I didn't quite make it there because on the way I saw a barber. Initially I walked on past, I think I was a bit scared of going into a barber shop out of England and I was even more scared of asking for the wrong thing and walking out of the shop with an afro or braids or something crazy. There was only two guys in there the barber and the barbered, theres a new word for you. I started chatting to them (I'm finding chatting to people real easy over here, yesterday over tea I got talking to a guy called Grant from New Zealand. Good stuff.) they welcomed me to San Francisco and all that jazz and I told them about what I had done and what I was doing here. They told me all about themselves and the haircutee, another one - just hitting them out today, paid and left. I struggled through a description of what I wanted done with my mop and he set to work. The haircut began and we kept talking all the way through. He started giving me a real big plan of what I should be doing with few days in Mexico and that was a literal plan - what roads I should take, how I should make the day come round in a full circle by getting buses here, there and everywhere - it was all a really good plan, but I knew as soon as I got out of his store I would forget every word. For now I just kept nodding to whatever he said. Some more chat chat chat and it was done. It looked like what I would get at home, so I was happy. Paid the man and walked out the door, turned the corner and headed on down to the waterfront. I was quite proud of myself for actually getting the haircut done. I didnt think I would do it and go home with hair down to my knees. If only. I was hoping to see the Golden Gate Bridge pretty clearly BUT San Francisco gets a good fog, better than I have ever seen in England, and so I could only see the bottom supports. Oh well, took a picture anyway. *Pictures update: Still looking for that Internet cafe - I have loads to upload though. Good news for you!* After that I wandered about fisher mans wharf until I ran into some your guide person - I wanted to get to Alcatraz but it was all fully booked. He told me to come back tomorrow in the morning and he will see if he can fit me in. Good stuff. I ended up just getting a sight seeing tour of downtown San Fran. Hopped on that and a few million photos later I had to get off the bus to get a jumper from the hostel because it was SOOO cold. My plan was to get back on the next bus that came around but only when I had got off the bus did I realise that that was the last bus of the day. Oh well, I can finish that off tomorrow...

On the way back from the water font, later on in the day I returned to check out Pier 39. I had been recommended to check out that specific pier and it was well worth it! It was awesome! They had everything you could possibly want on a pier and I will tell you it was ALOT better than the ones we have in England. So, anyway, on the way back from the waterfront... I got one of the classic cable cars that you seen whenever a TV or Movie shows San Francisco. I even got the ride for free because the car was too crowded to get to the ticket man. Perfect! That was real fun because you go up and down all the roads. It was just like a slow roller coaster. Wooooo.

On my route to get a jumper I saw a little ticket booth selling tickets for different shows. I wanted to actually do something so I bought a ticket for a little comedy showcase. Looked quite good. It was karaoke night at the hostel and although the prospect of listening plenty of bad versions of Wonderwall all night long was immensely appealing I went for the comedy show. It was in a theatre called 'Our Little Theatre' that was completely literal. The room was tiny, with enough chairs for about 20 people. Oh well, it was still pretty good fun. I laughed. A bit. On the way home it was really cold. I put my hood up and I immediately felt like a 'rude boi'. I watched 8 Mile a couple of days ago and so I felt sufficiently G'ed up like a gangster. I expect I looked like an idiot. Oh well.

Im pretty sure San Francisco road names were just based around the surnames of my friends. Today I saw Ellis, Taylor and Howard streets. I think the rulers of California should show more respect and make up there own names rather than stealing them from my friends.

Well that brings you up to speed on Philly's today. I think I'm just going to wander on down to the TV room, I hear some screaming cats still pouring out there hearts. It might be fun. Soon you will be able to check out my photos, they will tell you about my day better than this blog ever could.

Love always,


Thursday, 5 July 2007

Country number two in [clarke]'s amazing travels.

San Francisco, San Francisco.

Hey! If New York gets its own song then I think the big SF should get one as well! They both have impressive bridges, a ghetto and way too many art students anyway!

I'm here! Arrived, tired and hungry but at least I'm here! The walk from the station the hostel recommended me to get off at was a mission to the hostel, but that's a good thing really - it meant that I walked quite a long way meaning that I got to see quite a bit of San Francisco. I love it already! And I have only seen a tiny part of it. There isn't really much to tell you about today - I was on a plane all day so I don't think you will be too bothered if I don't give you a detailed report on that. BUT today I have noticed a load of things to write down on my little piece of paper! So here goes. This is the 5th of July in San Francisco through the eyes of Phil Clarke.

Today I was the most helpful I think I have ever been! Result! To start off G offered, last night, to give me a lift to the airport this morning. I said no because it was an early wake up and I thought he deserved the sleep... at least one of us should get some! Then at the airport I was carrying heavy bags all over the place for the elderly Spanish ladies. I was a good lad. Then again I offered some direction to an American guy in Los Angeles, and again in San Francisco. I think I have covered my 'Good Deed A Day' for the next few weeks! Then again I like helping people, its one thing I can be really good at. I declined the lift from G and I think the taxi coned me completely. People told me that it should have been about $170. So, I was eagerly waiting on the side of the road for the taxi to come along. Let me remind you that it was 6am and so they were few and far between. One came along and I had to go for it - it was getting a bit close for time. The thing is this taxi was running of a meter, the only one I have seen on a meter for the whole 6 weeks I have been here, typical! So in the end it came out about $250. All I had was $200 but luckily I had a few odd American dollars in my wallet so I managed to top it up with that. Oh well, its not like I could have used those pesos in America, and it was only a further $10, something like that, so not SO bad.

Whilst waiting for the plane to Los Angeles (Which came up as Los Aneles at the check-in desk. You can just imagine how funny the whole airport found that...) I saw a guy with just one arm. Its amazing how comfortable he was with it, obviously I didn't expect him to be uncomfortable but I would always be conscious of people staring. As I thought that I realised I was staring... so I quickly became interested in my passport. I don't really know what my point is in there. I'm in San Francisco - I don't think I need to make points anymore! In the same room as this guy there was a guy with 2 phones. Whats the point of that? Its not like you will be able to utilise them that effectively as you are never going to be able to use them at the same - just once at a time. If you only use them once at a time why not just use one phone. Crazyness...

I say some other random things in the airport, and one more on the streets of San Francisco. In the airport when I went down to get my luggage off the carousel I saw,

1. An Asian Chain Massage, or a ACM as I would prefer. They were all standing behind each other in a conga line each massaging the person in front. The guy at the back was a bit gutted, but the one at the front was loving it.
2. An animal cage that said 'Live Animal' on it that was empty. I'm just hoping that it was empty before the flight. Otherwise someone might get a nasty shock as they open their case!
3. A guy dressed in a grey cloak that looked like a cross between a Jedi and Gandalf. I wanted a picture, but I think he would have noticed me snapping up his picture. Anyway, I think I give you a good picture by Gandalf and Jedi.

I think I know everything there is about that safety demonstration as I have seen way too many in a short time. The thing that really stood out in today's demonstration was a line in the recording. "In the event of depressurization oxygen masks will be automatically released.... fix your own mask first and then if there are children next to you help them" I'm pretty sure that's not quote for quote but its something like that. The fact is I'm pretty sure its meant to be the other way around! Help the children and then fix your own! I'm pretty sure if it is your kid next to you then you are going to want to help them first! Whats the point in doing your own first? I'm pretty sure it doesn't take that long and so you will be able to manage to get there mask on and then your own? It just sounded a bit selfish to me! Also, they tell you on the video to turn off all iPods, Phones and Laptops. I had my phone on the whole flight, I didn't realise I had, and I was listening to my iPod the whole way in absence of the movies and I'm still alive. Sure, we lost 9 people from the back of the plane but that's not important, I'm alive.

As we were coming into Los Angeles there was a nice big fog covering everything. I don't know where the airport is in relation to the Hollywood sign, but I really wanted to see that from the sky. Get a few dozen photos of it as we whizz overhead. Oh well. Maybe I will just forge some photo some time. Awesome. Coming into San Francisco was awesome though! I was able to see the Golden Gate bridge off in the difference and as you come in to land you get real close to the sea... I liked it in my own childish way.

You don't get a photo of the day today because I cant find a USB thingy on the computer. Hard luck. I imagine I'm going to get some beauties as I go off soon to check out San Francisco. Maybe, if you are lucky, I will go to an Internet cafe on the street rather the one that is at the hostel. I'm pretty sure they will have all my uploading needs! The timing of the blog is going to work out perfectly. Today is blog number 38, tomorrow - Friday will be 39 and then Saturday will hit the big 40. Perfect because the day after is the day I start the tour and I will not be able to get to the computers that easy. I said I would stop at 40 so its all good!

Whilst I was thinking about this I remembered a stupid kid thing I used to think about. You know that little 'Stupid things I thought as a child' item I did in a few of the blogs - well, here is another one. I used to think that all the newborn babies where all in a line somewhere like heaven, but not heaven. Then when a mother was giving birth then the one at the front of the line would go to that mother, in that place and that country. Do you know what I mean? I used to think this because I always used to think I was lucky to live in England, compared to the poor and famine stricken countries around the world. I reckon I lost you in there, if you are not back reading in 5 mins I will set up a search party.

There wasn't a movie on the second plane - but it was only 1 hour long so that wasn't too bad. In my free time I listened to my iPod and read the in flight magazine! What a beauty! There were some articles that I could not be bothered to read but at the bottom of most of the pages they had a 'Did You Know?' section. Some gems I found out were, 1. The electric guitar was developed in Los Angeles. 2. The plastic Frisbee was developed in Los Angeles. There were loads more, but you know me, I forgot them!

There hasn't really been a song of the day, nothing has stood out. I'm listening to my ipod at the moment as I write this blog so I guess the song playing now will do,

Amie - Damien Rice.

My iPod is on shuffle so that is the song that destiny wishes to have as the song of the day. Maybe someone is listening to that song as they read this. If you are more than likely you are my soul mate, email me at and when I get home we can meet up and get married or something. I was thinking about destiny today, or rather I was thinking off things happening for a reason. For something to happen for a reason someone actually has to do something. For example me finding that money yesterday in the pet store, someone had to loose that money so that I could find it. Its a bit of a weak example but it gets my point. Sometimes you have to go with your gut as to do something, or not do something, for something to happen for a reason for someone else. Please say you understand that because it makes sense in my head, I'm just not that good at getting it down onto the blog.

I just ran a spell check. Why is it grammatically corect for the Internet to have a capial 'I'. Its not the name of a person or place or anything like that. I think it should just be 'internet', but the dictionary isnt going to listen to just me alone.

It is time for me to go run around San Francisco like a mad man with a camera. It is more than possible that I get arrested for excessive photography, but we will cross that bridge when I come to it.

I'm here, safe and happy.

Love always,


p.s. I hear some of the family are getting onto the blog these days! So a big Hello to Grand Parents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. I hope you are all very well! And I will tell you all about the travels, armed with alot of photos, when I get home. Much love to you all!

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Marking the end of Mexico. Still to come: San Francisco and America

Blog number 37 marks the last blog that I will do in Mexico on these travels. Who knows, maybe some time in the future I will return to Mexico and hit out another entry, but for now, the end. So no longer will your mouth be burned by the Mexican chili in my words, nor will your state of mind be tainted by the tequila flavour in my sentences. I'm sorry, but that's the way it has to be.

So tomorrow at 9 I will be leaving this glorious land on the back of Mexicana. I tell you one thing, THEY HAD BETTER HAVE MOVIES, or I will be kicking off! At 2.20 pm tomorrow I will be in San Francisco and about to traipse up to the hostel I have booked. I am really excited about starting this second part of my travels! It feels like right now I am back at home, on the verge of a completely new adventure into the states. I'm still yet to meet the people actually on the tour with me as well as the people from the hostel... but they cant be that bad right? Anyway, my iPod is fixed so I'm not even going to talk to them once. Just get off the bus to take pictures then get back on. I'm living the American dream. But really I am really excited at meeting new people! Already my MSN contact list is an international, even inter racial, list! I wont know whether to ¡Hola! or Hello people to begin conversations!

I remembered the forgotten point about the bus-
3. The bus driver just does what he wants, when he wants. I have seen them get off the bus to pay their phone bill, to get some water from a road side vendor or go into a store to get some food. Its not like they do it at the end of the line, they just do it when the feeling hits them! If that happened in England there would be plenty of complaints! Even when buses are on time the British do grumble!
4. People NEVER sit in the window seat. They always sit on the aisle seat. Even when people are standing in the aisle waiting for a seat. I don't know where I got it from, I think it was an advert, but I thought the Mexicans are intrusive of personal space - they wouldn't really mind sitting next to a stranger. Now, that might be completely wrong but meh, it kind of makes sense.

What happened today? I hear you ask. Well. It was a late wake up, again. I figured that because I am having an early wake up tomorrow (I have to be at the airport at 7am. The airport is at least an hour away...) I was allowed to have longer in bed this morning. Well, I woke up and showered and called around the Mexico team to see if some of the crew wanted to do something today - go to the cinema, just hang out - before I went home tomorrow. It all sounded quite good - one guy was going to call every one else to find out what they were doing. Perfect. I just went online and chatted to some of the home team! It was good because I don't really know, past San Francisco, how much I'm going to be able to talk to the home Crew. My heart goes out to the lady of the notebook! I hope you do feel better soon! After about an hour the guy called me back with some brilliant news. Everyone was busy. I was going to be on my own for my last day. Awesome. I went around to an Internet cafe as the computer at G's house just doesn't cut it! I watched some Ricky Gervais stand up on YouTube and then decided that I was going to do something on my last day, even if it was going to be on my own! So I went back to G's, got my things and hopped onto the 629 bus. Destination: Galerias. I went around to the cinema and managed to get myself a ticket to see Oceans 13, I even managed to make sure the film was in English. Impressive, no?. Well, quite simply 'no'. All I did was keep repeating 'Inglais' with a graceful shrug of the shoulders until she could decipher what I meant and replied that it was in Inglais. It only cost me $39!! That's only under £2!! And this was a good cinema! The seats were real comfortable and reclined quite a bit, it was nice and air conditioned and the screen was massive. I just sat there on my own, sipping my coke and waiting for the ocean to revel itself to me. It was a pretty good film. I recommend it to all you readers.

I was getting peckish after the film so I headed over the Carl Jr's, that's the burger restaurant that I had with Nacho back in the first week. Remember? If not you can read those past blogs in a couple of clicks. Go on, refresh your memory. It will do you good. I had the same burger and it went down a treat. The best thing about the meal was ordering. It just like the regular order but instead of having you wait in line for your food they give you a chunky coaster. It has lights flashing on it and everything! I didn't really know what to do so I just took my coke and went to sit down. As soon as I sat down this coaster thing started flashing and vibrating! I just headed back to the counter to see what had happened and there was my food, waiting for me! I was amazed! They just page you, through the coaster when the food is ready. What an awesome country. All I have left in my wallet now is a $200 note and a $20 note. I want to keep the $20 note because that is what a pound is worth. I have kept a $1 bill from America, when I went on my 18th, so I wanted to save this from Mexico. The only thing is that I only had $3 pesos change. I needed $4.50 for the bus. After rummaging in my bag a bit I managed to dig out another peso. I just needed .50 more! I searched all my pockets and bag but nothing. I ended up just walking around the mall looking down at the floor for some spare change. I don't have the confidence, nor the language, to be able to haggle with the bus driver. I do know how to ask for some change "Tiene cincuenta centimos cambio" (I dont really know if that is spelt correctly, but at least I know how to say it) - Do you have 50 cents change? but I thought it was a bit cheeky seeing that I did have the money in my wallet, but I just didn't want to spend it. I walked around quite a bit to no joy. I saw a couple of shops down a pet store that I wanted to check out. This store had everything! Ferrets, Lizards, Tarantulas, Parrots, Dogs, Rabbits and much more! I checked some out and turned around. There gleaming up at me was a $1 peso coin! I swiftly sidled over and picked it up! I even had a plan to make it look natural. I would drop one of my coins so that it looked like I had dropped some money and just pick it all up, $1 the richer. There we go! I was free to get the bus home and was able to save my $20!

I had a BIT of trouble with the washing today... I thought that seeing I was starting a fresh, so to speak, in America I may as well go with a bag full of clean clothes. It makes sense. So, I put the clothes into the washer and started it going. I went back upstairs to check emails and what not. 20 mins later I hear alot of running water downstairs. I run downstairs and discover a pipe hanging out of the back of the machine and water pouring out of it. I waited until the machine had finished its spin and the water stopped pouring. I simply plugged the pipe back in again and started it all over again. I don't see how all that plumber malarky is so tricky. I should have charged G for fixing the machine... So, the washing, second time round, went through with no problem and I got it all out to try. I left it later in the afternoon when I went to the cinema. That is the one problem with cinemas, you cant see what is going on outside. It had rained. No, it had poured. By the time I got back it was like my clothes had had another wash. I didn't know wheter to risk leaving them out over night (I didn't really know why I thought to leave them - I'm pretty sure the sun wasn't going to change and come out again at 12.00...) or bring them in and spread them out to dry over night. I went for the latter option and so at the moment I am surrounded by shirts, socks and boxers on the floor, check the pic of the day. I'm not that hopeful of a full recovery, and come morning they are going to have to go in that bag dry or not. I will just have to find a laundrette in San Fran to finish of the dry. My floor, at the moment, resembles a really bad art attack. Enough said.

The film the Sum of all Fears (La Suma de Todas los Miedos) is on the TV but it is in Spanish and that SAP mode isn't working! Why have a film, that is initially in English translated into Spanish and not even have both versions going out at the same time. I'm annoyed because I would have liked to watch that film again. No-one knows this but it is this film that inspired me to sign my name as [clarke], they do it at some point when talking to each other. The other thing about Spanish television is that you are taken completely by surprise when the adverts come on! One second it is The Simpsons and the next they are trying to persuade you to but everything under the sun! There is no warning, no 'Part 2 after the break', they just hit you with advert after advert!

Ladies and Gentlemen that is the end of the Mexican blogs. From now onwards all my blogs will have an American undercurrent. I'm not sure whether that is a good thing, but at least it will be of the same language as us, even if they speak it badly!

Love always,


Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Muggings from a 'Mug in' Guadalajara. Oh come on! It nearly works.

A bit of a shaker preceded this blog, but thanks to my awesome mum (Mum's ALWAYS know best) the shake was left in my wake and all things are peachy again! The pic of the day is one of the kids, Samuel, at the oasis project posing with the house of cards I made. Obviously everyone was impressed with my skills. Obviously.

I remembered a joke that I was going to tell you yesterday. It was meant to come in after the nose peeling question. It goes something like this.

Q. What has an Onion and my peeling Nose have in common?
A. They both smell and have loads of layers.

I know some of you wish I never remembered the joke as a small part of you has died inside but for the small few that actually liked that joke your the kind of people I would like to get to know better.

I was watching a program last night called "The Contender 2" (all thanks to the glorious SAP button that transform the dreadful Spanish into the beauty of English) and the boxers were pretty smart. The show had got to the stage when only 8 contenders were left, meaning that they fight each other in a tournament. Winner goes onto the next round, loser goes home. Well, at different points in the show the boxers have one on one interviews with the camera. Its all about showing who is the bigger guy, who was brought up on the 'streets' and which of them deserve to win the competition the most. In these interviews these two quotes came up.

Boxer 1. He actually quoted from the bible. I cant remember word for word but it was something like "He who is picked last, comes first". He actually believed that because he was picked last to go on the teams that he was going to be the one that came up top. I'm pretty sure that doesn't make sense. At all.

Boxer 2. This genius was talking about his childhood, how he has been brought up in a rough family and that he has the classic 'rags to riches' story. He said "In my family I was always fighting with my Father and my Brothers. This wasn't the man I wanted to be when I grew up." Sooooo... what is his profession now? A boxer right? I THINK that classes him as a fighter. But these guys can be excused I guess. Its not like they are using there brains all day. Just there idiots, sorry, fists.

I remembered something that I wanted to brag to you today. You know I was a volunteer at Lincoln school. Well, on the last day Glen, the headteacher, came up to me and gave me an envelope. I thought it was just a thank you type card that all the teachers had written in. I didn't want to open it right there in front of him so I waited till he had left and ripped it open. Inside, staring right up at me, was $1000!! There wasn't even a card to get through before the money, although it would have been nice to get something to remember the staff by. I have been able to make it through the whole 6 weeks without having to get any money out, apart from today - but more on that later, which means I have spent $5000 in 6 weeks. That's only £250! Granted I haven't had to pay for any accommodation, or food, well ... I haven't had to pay for that much at all really but people would easily spend £250 just going to the beach for a week. I now have about £1500 ( $3000 American Dollars) to spend throughout America, which includes getting my sparking new guitar!

I have told you before how weird my dreams have been out here. Well, last night I had a whole load of weird ones! I can only remember two, so those will have to do!

1. I was at Oxted School and I think I was at a school rehearsal. I wasn't in the play but I think I was just going down to see people and wish them luck. All I remember is Miss Catherine Pollock coming up to me and saying Hi, I turned around to talk to someone else and then looked back at Cat after about 10 seconds and she had changed into her costume. I think I just carried on talking to her as normal. Now it doesn't seem as weird as it does this morning - but dreams are like that and don't you just forget them so fast!

2. I was in Oxted again but up near my house. I was on Field Court. I was doing some kind of magic trick and showing it to Richard Layton. It was something like I could pass my fingers straight though my other fingers. It was weird alone. Then I started strangling him. After a bit Patrick Haywood came over, looked down the road and said "Hey look! Its Missy Elliot!". I can remember, even IN my dream, thinking - 'Now that is just ridiculous. WAKE UP NOW PHIL, THIS IS STUPID'. Crazy dreams!!!

I heard some news about the UK. Things are getting pretty Hectic over there arnt they!! So Tony Blair has gone, I half knew about that - I just didn't know when he was going. What shocked me was hearing about all the bombs that are being found in London and Glasgow! I'm amazed that that doesn't make it onto the world news! Actually, saying that ... it probably has. I'm not really a religious watcher of the news out here so I can hardly place judgement. I also hear its raining alot over there. These are crazy times. RAIN in ENGLAND? Crazy. Finally Mr Nelson is the big cheese. Good on him. Is that a permanent thing? Look at all that. I leave England for 1 month and look at the mess it gets itself into. Super Phil needs to make a visit home.

Today was lazy for the start and got slightly more busy towards the end to the grand finale of huge panic. It was another late morning. I am allowing myself to have them now because I don't want to be really tired all the way through the day. I was also able to chat to some of the home crew on the wonder that is MSN. Tom Seller nipple crippled an artist on a major music label. Joshua Radin, last night, felt the wrath of Tom Seller. He is now my hero. Awesome. I wanted to go to the oasis project today so that I could say goodbye to the street kids and the staff that work there. The only way I knew how to get there on bus is to get to the school first, then get another one down town. The walk to school takes 20 mins so I'm pretty sure I made that journey hard on myself. I never really know when and where my meals are coming from so I bough my self a Burger King - Rey de Pollo. Someone else can translate that, if you are man enough. Onwards to the Project. I was travelling around on bus's for at least an hour today and all it cost me was $10, that's about 50p. I'm still amazed at how cheap things are out here.

Whilst I have the chance I will give you a quick briefing on the Mexio bus's.
1. I'm pretty sure you have to be Mexican to wave one down. The number of times I have been standing on the side of the road and stuck my arm out only to have it cruise on past is crazy! They quite obviously see me. They only time they stop when I go to wave one down is when I have a Mexican standing with me.
2. They will shout at you if you try to get off the bus at the front door. You are meant to go to the back of the bus and hit the little buzzer that tells the driver that you are ready to get off. You have to get the timing perfect though, otherwise the bus stops quite a bit before your destination or you miss it completely.
3. There is definitely another point I was going to make... but I have forgotten it.

Eventually, after a solid hour on the bus letting Jason Mraz grace my eardrums, I arrived at the bus and I went on inside. I was just playing with the kids - connect 4 and some crazy game on the roof where everyone gets a basketball and the aim of the game is to inflict the most damage by kicking it at people. A bit like an unorganised dodge ball game. That hurts. - and building houses of cards. It came round to when they were having a meeting and the bus all gathered for that. At the end they gave me a certificate for the help I have been, which I naturally left in the Waymans car when they gave me a lift home. Typical. I was dropped off at Fuente where they were having a prayer service. I went along because I was going to say goodbye to some of the guys there, they even said we might be able to go out for dinner. Didn't happen. Just ended up coming home. Well, that's where the trouble began. I asked G if there was a place we could stop of at so that I could get some money out. He took me to a local ATM and I put in my card. In England, before I came out here, I put all my money in a Nationwide account as they don't charge people abroad, because of this I hadn't used it that much and I had forgotten my pin. Well, I thought I knew it - but I just plain didn't. I tried a couple of times until I got a screen of some crazy Spanish. I tried at another ATM and the same thing happened. I started to panic. If this card has gone wrong I'm in real trouble when I get to America - that's the only thing I can pay on. So with the panic I got really annoyed really quickly! I think I even got annoyed with G and it was clearly not his fault - I will apologise deeply tomorrow. I got home and I called home, it was 5 am - but they did say call whatever time if you need help! Mumsy got on the phone and I asked her to check on my PIN number. I had got it wrong. Well, its done now so I asked her to call the bank and she did so. After a while she called back and said that all I have to do is use the correct pin and it should 'unlock' the card. Simple. I wanted to try it straight away but mum was quite anxious about using it at night what with muggings and all.I ran around to the ATM and saw no-one in sight. I whacked in the card and punched out the correct pin. SUCCESS! I was soooooooo happy! I got some money out so that I could pay the taxi on Thursday and practically skipped out of the ATM room. I turned the corner and sitting at the bottom of some steps was a young guy with his hood up. He wasn't there before. He didn't hear me approach so I turned right around and walked another way. I crossed over the road, walked down a bit and crossed over again. He had started to follow me. I don't know if I was reading to much into this, maybe he was genuinely walking this way, but I didn't like it. As soon as I turned around a corner I girlishly ran all the way to G's. All safe now, didn't see him follow me around. So, its all sorted! I have money again, I spoke to Mum and skillfully avoided a potential mugging. A good day out I think.

Tomorrow is my last day in Mexico and I have absolutely NO plans. Should be fun. I'm going to try and get the team from Lincoln school together again but I don't know if that will work - I tried calling one of them today and no answer. Oh well ... I can try again tomorrow!

Song of the day - Please Don't Tell Her - Jason Mraz

Love always,


p.s. Sorry that ending is a bit weak. It is 12.40 in my defence.