‘I’m not gonna be able to fit everyone on, ay.’
It was the first logistical fuck up I’d encountered in my two weeks in New Zealand. Everything had been efficient, well ordered and polite. Even the transvestite bus driver was amiable and full of stories of varying degrees of interest. But now high season in the popular Bay of Islands tourist destination had got the better of a fledgling tour company and 20 people were lining up on the dock to fill five remaining seats in the high speed ferry. After a Chinese family pushed their way past the other patient customers to take the spots I asked how long it would be to send another boat.
‘Well. I’m the driver,’ he said tucking his shirt in to his high pants, ‘and the other driver’s here too, and the boat’s docked at the island. So, at least an hour.’
Everywhere you look in the travel blogging world there are lists. The Top 13 Places to see in 2013; Top 10 Pick Up joints in Osaka; Top 8 ways to eat sausage in Munich; Top 6 Beaches in Estonia; Top 5 ways to wipe your arse in Vietnam.
Lists would have to be the weakest, laziest form of writing. It requires no story-line or plot or structure. Any cretin with a pen and paper and a spare five minutes can jot down a few places they’ve been and put them in any order. They’re not right or wrong, they’re just opinion and advice. It’s just a quick, easy, cheap read for the audience.
Here is a list of my own.
I knew nothing about Central America before I went there. There were two countries I had never even heard of, one I only knew because they had qualified for the World Cup and another famous for a canal and nothing else. It’s a neglected and ignored place, a tiny bridge between two continents that’s been ravaged and pillaged by wars and natural disasters in equal measure.
get used to long waits
I have just spent the best part of 12 months in Latin America. From Mexico down to Argentina, across to Chile and up again. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything, and given the time and resources would gladly do it again. I left regretting so much that I was leaving behind. The endless Argentine nights; Venezuela’s daily head-scratching anomalies; the amiable people of Chile; Mexico’s 24-hour tequila consumption and the unique ability to breakout into a party, parade, protest or riot at a moments notice, complete with music, dancing and fireworks. These are a few of the features I will miss.
South America is old as shit. I know European cities have been around longer and the North American countries are roughly the same age, but in these places they are constantly upgrading their buildings and infrastructure and sewerage system. In South America it looks like everything was built in 1650 and nobody has bothered to add a coat of paint since. And in this the 21st century you still can’t flush your fucking toilet paper.
I’ve always known about that song that goes: ‘I’m in the OPP. Yeah, you know me!’ I never really knew or cared what OPP was or who the song was by. It was just a song that came on the radio every now and then and got stuck in my head for a day or so before I forgot about it completely for another six months. Then, as I sat behind bars in New Orleans and looked down at my orange jumpsuit, I saw printed the letters O-P-P. Then it hit me. Orleans Parish Prison! ‘I’m in the OPP.’ And there I was too. It was sort of like living a dream, but more precisely, a horrible, horrible nightmare.
riff raff class
There are two small islands off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua called Big CornIsland and Little Corn Island. Neither are shaped like corn, and corn is not noticably abundant whilst there, but one is definitely bigger than the other, so at least in one aspect the name works.