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October 31, 2005

Cabo San Lucas

I´d thought we´d made it out of the American border towns that seem to serve no other purpose other than to cater to those who would otherwise be underage at home. Silly me. It´s now obvious that we´ll find these parties at all tourist destinations on the ´gringo trail´ south.

Initially Cabo San Lucas had all the fixings of a real Mexican town, including dusty unpaved roads, open air barbeque's, stray animals of all sorts and not a word of English. That was until we got to the waterfront. If I didn´t know any better, I´d swear we´d landed ourselves in some sort of Mexican themed night out in Daytona Beach. Tourists of all ages were out in force. We picked El Squid Roe, not because it was any different than anything else along the strip; it wasn´t. All that set it apart was that there were people in it; it was hopping on this Sunday night.

Sombrero´s and Tequilla sloshed around to the beat of mid 90´s hip-hop as Middle-aged men in Acalpulco shirts danced violently on table tops while drunk girls were constantly being encouraged to shed their tops and ´party hard´ by a whistle blowing Mexican standing front and centre in a tall steel tower labeled ´Substitute Pimp´. Hunter S Thompson describes the Circus Circus in Las Vegas as a reflection of ´how the whole world would be spending their Saturday nights, if the Nazi´s had won the war.´ Surely the same is true for this place.

While I´d like to say we turned our noses up and left, it´s not really our style. We bought the ticket and planned to take the ride. As tequila and Jello shooters were forced down our throats and our belly´s began to warm and Squid Roe began to feel a little more normal... We made the most of it and ended up having some fun.

Permalink | Mexicali, we'll get on a Mexican bus for another 10 hours or so to eventually arrive on the Pacific Coast to soak up some sun and maybe even eat at taco or two.

Neither of us has any real delusions about the physical and mental hardship we're about to submit ourselves to. We'll be taken to the brink. If we make it through this, we can endure any form of public transportation. Wish us luck. We leave at 10:15pm EST tonight.

October 16, 2005

Living Cheap in NYC

Living Cheap in NYC

Nobody said it was supposed to be easy

Day 11

As the city continues to bleed money from us, we've decided to take our fate into our own hands. No longer will we be at to mercy of a fickle ship captain who seemingly has been stringing us along. For all we know he's setting sail today with his first-string crew. (My phone calls to him have started to go unanswered).

It's time to take proactive steps toward getting that little red arrow moving. We broke down and finally registered at a service called Crewbay, it was $40 CDN for one month, which represents a small defeat for us, but already looks promising. Restlessness has started to take hold we'll need to make a move sooner rather than later. For now we'll turn it up a notch and see if we can't get something going.

October 14, 2005

And on the 9th day it rained more, and Ryan lamented

Day 9

The rain won't stop, it's dominating the local news. This streak, in my estimation, has the potential to rival The Great Flood; Only 31 one more days, and 31 more nights to go. If the television news is to be believed, New Jersey and Parts of Long Island are already starting to sink; and so are my spirits. It's not all bad though.

I'm always surprised at how quickly my fortunes can change. Two days ago I was in a very different spot that I am now. I was alone and wandering the city, wet from the rain for my 3rd day running. Brian had emailed me to say that he was going to be even further delayed. Roberto, the 52-year old Surgeon, who was our only real lead out of here, had called to say he'd found 'other crew' for his trip to Bermuda, and the city was peeling money from my wallet at a terrifying pace. All of this is compounded by the fact that the HI New York Hostel which used to be an old, womens hospital, felt well... like a hospital.

I could have survived all of this in good spirits, as I'm generally a happy person and able to deal with a little adversity from time to time. But the rain. I can handle a day or two of rain, no sweat. But 7 days non-stop. It had a profound effect on my psyche. But that was then, this is now.

It's a new day and while the sun isn't yet shining and we don't have a definate ride out of the city, the tide has begun to shift. The rain is forcasted to end by Sunday. Brian has arrived. Roberto, the sailor, called me because some of his crew ended up being no shows. He expressed over the phone that he would want to leave as quickly as possible once this weather clears. (i.e. Sunday or Monday). We've also moved out of the HI Hostel and into a closer, hopefully more personable one, called Jazz on the Park. Yes, things are looking up. Today is a new day.

In other news, it looks like Jon's Skee-Ball score of 540 last weekend at ACE bar has caused a stir in the Skee-Ball Comunity.

October 11, 2005

Bryant Park - Midtown Manhattan

Day 6

Surfing at Bryant ParkBryant Park; Come for the free Wi-Fi, stay for the urban oasis. As long as it's not raining, which is hardly ever, I'm planning to spend some time here each day, on their free wireless internet network updating this site and generally getting my daily fix.

Google has recently put in a bid to provide free wi-fi to the entire city of San Francisco, and I'd been reading that they'd been experimenting with wi-fi in New York City. I'm guessing Bryant Park is their Area 51. Though it doesn't seem to me to be much of a secret as they've got their name on every brochure and sign posted in the park. In any case, if it's free, I'll take it.

Yesterday I mentioned that I was planning to do a little walking on my own to see the city. When I said a 'little' I'd envisioned a few hours at the most. What I didn't imagine was that I'd walk from 103rd street all the way down to Battery Park, then back up to Times Square (42nd st.) I'm certainly no expert in NYC geography but I'm pretty sure this works out to over 200 city blocks.

Uh oh. Here comes the rain. The trouble with free outdoor wi-fi is that computers don't work well in the rain. I have to go. I apologize if this entry is full of typos and gramatical errors... let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

October 10, 2005

Columbus Day

Day 5

As my family celebrates Thanksgiving in Canada, I'll be spending Columbus Day here in New York City moving into Hostelling International's hostel in Manhattan's Upper West Side. This will be the first time since arriving in the city that I'll be in a hostel and have booked 2 nights only, as I'm not entirely confident that living in what is supposedly the world's largest hostel will be my cup of tea.

Until now I've been staying with friends in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), playing the part of a local New Yorker and haven't yet explored the city with my tourist hat on. I expect this to change today now that Jon and Matt are headed back to Toronto and I'm moving into a hostel that'll likely be filled with other foreigners.

Brian has yet to arrive (the latest word is Tuesday), which means I'll have some time on my own to see some of those NYC must-see sites most travel guides rave about. I've got my walking shoes on, an unlimited Subway pass and some free time. Let's see what I can find.

October 08, 2005

Times Square in The Rain

Times Square

Brooklyn

Day 3

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

-Inscibed on the Statue of Liberty

Manhatten and her 5 buroughs can assault your senses. The night rain deepens the darkness and really gives you a sense of Delillo's American magic and dread. The city is crammed into an impossibly small island, that acts as a giant magnet; drawing everything irreversibly to her. This, of course isn't a new phenomen. She's been at it for some time now; seducing the worlds huddled masses for more than 200 years.

Lady Liberty.

New York, New York.

Last night was a blur of small Brooklyn bars capped with a 3 a.m. breakfast of bacon and eggs. Leonard Cohen woke us up. It somehow seems appropriate on this sad, rainy New York day. We need to get out of this apartment and get downtown....

October 07, 2005

Oshawa - New Jersey

Day 2

2 countries in two days; At this rate, if I travel for a year we will have visited 365 countries. We're in New Jersey visiting Jon's family at the moment and should be heading into Brooklyn later this evening.

Apparently there is some drama with the NYC Subways, CNN knows a lot more than I do: New York spends day on alert after false alarm.

Also, I just found out that The Sudbury Star has a front page story about our trip. I haven't seen it for myself but, if the rumors are true than it could mean a boost to our readership. A quick search online indicates that they have an average daily readership of 19,000. These are exciting times for me.

October 06, 2005

The Wanderlust

"Grim land, dim land, oh, how the vastness calls!
Far land, star land, oh how the stillness falls!
For you never can tell if it's heaven or hell,
And I'm taking the trail on trust;
But I haven't a doubt
That my soul will leap out
On it's Wan-der-lust."

- Robert (The Wanderlust)

Oshawa

Day 1

Is it the U.S Rangers that always strive to never leave a man behind? or is it the Navy Seals? Whoever it is, it's not me. I barely blinked an eye when Brian told me today that there was 'no chance' of him hooking up with us before Saturday or Sunday. Our ride leaves early this evening (in 2 or 3 hours) without him. It's okay, he's a resourceful guy, he should be able to get on a Greyhound and catch up with us in NYC sometime later this weekend. Filling his seat in the car will be a good friend of mine, Matt Perpick, who is desperately punching out university research papers as quickly as possible in order to free up time for the trip (to NYC not around the world).

This first day of the trip isn't quite what I'd imagined. We're without Brian O'Neill and, disappointingly, tonight's destination is set to be Oshawa, Ontario (No offense intended to those who live there). It's a small bedroom community a mere 60km (38 Miles) East of the city. All the shots I got today for Yellow Fever and Typhoid will do me no good in 'The Shwa' as they call it. I'm craving more exotic locations.

This overnight stop serves more than one purpose. First, it gets us out of the thick of the city, where we'll be poised to burst out onto the open highway early tomorrow morning. And secondly, we'll be seeing Cuff the Duke perform at a place called Catch-22. I know nothing about them.

This is it, the first step on a much bigger journey.

'We have longer ways to go...'

October 05, 2005

Packed

All You Need For A Trip Around The WorldSuccess. It seemed like an impossible task but I did it. I packed my entire life into these two small bags. Just two bags of clothing and gear. I'm pretty sure I have roughly the same volume of stuff to go around the world as many people bring to a cottage for a long weekend. Except for a few small items that still need to be picked up in Toronto, beginning tomorrow, I'll be living exclusively from these two bags.

Of course my luggage didn't always look as neat and tidy as you see pictured above. I've developed a highly effective, two-step packing strategy that I might consider trademarking and selling if I didn't already have my hands full with this trip. Consider yourselves lucky, you get this packing advice free of charge. Here it is: Gadgets and Stuff - To Bring Around the World

1. Throw everything that you think you might want to use while travelling onto a pile on the floor. Don't eliminate anything. If you think you can use it, add it to the pile. All the important decisions come later, in step two.

2. Begin removing things from the pile while chanting to yourselfClothes to Bring Around the World
my new favorite mantra: "Less is more." As soon as the pile has diminished enough to fit into the luggage you've got, pack it up and then take a nap.

That's it. It's that easy. In my case it worked out to two easily carried bags. A 50 Litre backpack and a 58 Litre MEC duffle bag. (My daypack is actually inside the duffle bag.)

Tomorrow will be a trial run for me as I'll be making my way over to Sudbury (2hrs) to board a bus down to Toronto (5.5hrs), which is officially where we want to leave from, and return to.

I plan to provide a breakdown of what I'm bringing and what I've decided to leave behind in the FAQ section very soon.

October 03, 2005

Idle

Ryan and Brian - Sailing
Over the last few days we've been in contact with The Sudbury Star, a local newspaper that may be doing a story on our trip. It wasn't until they asked for a picture of Brian and I together that I realized that there are very few pics of us in the same frame, at least that I'm aware of. The one you see is what my mother was able to dig up on some very short notice. It was taken a couple years ago at John Island and has the added bonus of having a sailing theme! However, I'm pretty sure we'll need a more substatial boat than the one pictured.

I've also managed to secure a ride down to New York, my old roommate, Jon, has friends in Brooklyn. When he realized that this coming weekend up is, in fact, a long weekend here in Canada, he offered up the ride as a chance for him to help us out and catch up with some old friends. We'll be leaving Toronto on either the 7th or the 8th. This turn of events works well for Brian and I because it means we'll have a place to stay for the weekend before we have to move into a New York City hostel. If anybody out there has any hosteling secrets specific to Manhattan or Brooklyn; I'm all ears...

Brian has finished with his medical school applications only to divert his focus over to law school applications. I spoke with him tonight and I'm confident he'll have finished up all loose ends and be ready to travel by Friday morning. For now I wait. Idle. Tomorrow I'll chop wood and golf at the new 18-hole course in town; Built where the house I lived in for most of high-school used to exist. I think our home was about where the first green is now.

October 01, 2005

Deadlines

"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."

-Douglas Adams

Today is October 1st. This was to be the first symbolic day of our storied journey, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. Brian is fighting to free himself from what seems to me to be endless Law and Med School applications while I'm trying to stretch this move out as long as possible in an attempt to avoid being too idle, for too long.

Tomorrow should be the last of the move for me and I fully expect Brian to break free very soon. We plan to converge together here in Toronto early next week and are already taking concrete steps to get us out of Canada and on the road.

I think I may have found a ride to NYC where I've arranged to meet with a 52 year-old surgeon who's apparently has a 40' Beneteau that he'll be sailing from NYC to Bermuda then eventually down to the British Virgin Islands. He needs 3 crew, I'm hoping we fit the bill. These plans of course are subject to change at a moments notice as I haven't actually secured the ride to New York, nor have I been able to get a firm commitment from this skipper leaving New York sometime after the 10th of October.

Whatever happens, I'm eager to go. To start travelling, and spend my money somewhere other than Toronto.

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