Ivan's 2002 tour
9th April collected a Rental and called on a couple of
Studios that I will not comment on then drove from LA
to Santa Barbara to see Tom & Joyce Wilson-Holt arriving
a day early. They were both well with Joyce still teaching
at Brooks and Tom has a interesting job with a vineyard!
Today I went out to the pyramids that are thousands of years old, I thought I would need the super wide angle lens but far from it, most of the time I was using the longest lens I have.
They said they would pick me up at 9.20am and they arrived at 9.10, so much for Mexican time! I was the first collected, there was a guy from England who had been doing work on a oil rig in the Gulf, a guy from France traveling round North & South America on business, a guy from Geneva who was also on business, he had been to 104 countries, I took a instant dislike to him (Joke) , a guy from Taiwan who got lost at lunch time and a honeymoon couple from Argentina.
The girl could speak English because she was an English teacher, he has learnt a few words like most of the others from that country but had forgotten them all, so she was busy translating most things to him.
On the way out to the pyramids we stopped at several other landmarks, mainly churches in this very Catholic country, I think it is probably the only country in the world who's church population is increasing, there were 4000 in the church today, it can hold 6000. We saw one of the old churches that is slowly tipping forward, the ground under all of Mexico city is slowly sinking as the water table falls. They had closed the church but were forced to reopen by popular request so they had put large concrete coats around the pillars about 40cm thick, at the rear with these pillars the pillar was straight but the edges of the walls at the door frames had a larger tilt on them that the leaning tower of Pisa.
Mexico also suffer from many earthquakes which does not help these old buildings many we saw with large cracks in the wall that they had plastered over to reassure the people, it was not making the building any safer by any means, but looking at the numbers in church it was working!
It was then on to the pyramids and we got there about 11.45. it was quite hot so I only wore a safari jacket, white shirt and black trousers, of course I wore the required bow tie, you will all be please to know that I was the only one there holding up the dress code!
Our first stop there was a gift shop that just happened to be open and I rather liked a Aztec mask made out of stone, but the thought of carrying it around the world for the next 12 months forced me to not bother it was 500 pesos, of course I saw many others being offered by peddlers that were scattered all the way along the two miles that was the area of this historic site, their price came down to 100 pesos, but I did not examine them to see what the difference was, but I guessed they would have been adequate, so next time!
Then we had lunch at an up market restaurant, I can tell these as the charge 15 pesos instead of 12 for a can of diet coke. After we finished we went looking for the guy from Taiwan and finally found him at the starting point. All were dropped off at their hotels with me being the second to last to go!
Then I went for a walk along the main street looking at all the things being sold and I have this very strong feeling that copyright does not mean very much here. You can buy almost any high priced software for about $10 and I guess that is the Gringo's price, goodness knows what the locals pay!
The mariachi band has just started at 8pm so lucky me is probably going to have this wonderful tune till 11 pm….. perhaps they close early seeing it is Sunday, well I will not hold my breath
it is downstairs after I send this, look at the special
English menu and have dinner.
I am sitting in the first class lounge at Mexico international Airport at the moment writing this.
I arrived good and early as it is always very easy sitting in these surroundings, it was just as well as all of the luggage that was checked in had to be checked by hand, the economy section had quite a line waiting to have their luggage checked, up to now apart from India the bags have been X-rayed.
CUBA click to read about Cuba
Now, I thought, as I make these comments, I reminded myself that I am the one that tells others to leave all of your background and standards behind in your own country and you can not compare the country you are visiting with your own, which to my dismay I find my self seeming to do.
Reading thro this article I wonder if I am being too hard, but then I think Fidel has had 43 years of control and in this period other countries have become successful and after all he does speak how the capitalist days are numbered so by default his system must be better and under this basis I am judging his country and what I have seen.
If I had 9 mil pop that would work at a starting wage of 6 cents a hour I would have factory's from all around the world using the labour, like Taiwan and Japan did to get started, now look at them.
From bottom left
However what has "annoyed" me in Cuba, and I think that is the correct word to use is that the average wage is $10- $15 per month, a pensioner gets about $7.75. They (the Govt Owned coys) charge $55 a day for one of these people they pay $10 a month, that equals on a 40 hour week .06c per hour that is almost 100 times their hourly rate. From what I can understand no one can make ends meet on what they are paid, but the Govt will not increase the wage I am told because it will make people rich!
I am often asked what country would you not return to, up to now there has not been a country, finally I have one, Cuba, I would not return until it was free.
I realize 5000 is over the top for an E-mail so when I get it onto the web I will send you a link so if you feel so inclined you can read my ramblings. For those of you that thought of an attachment have forgotten that not everyone can open an attachment because of the superior computer they own!
The flight from Cuba was uneventful, there were no fighter jets forcing the plane down to retrieve my article, they could not change my flight on from Mexico City in Cuba!
I was flying Mexicana in and out of Cuba, on both flights the toilets were a mess, and on takeoffs on both occasions something crashed to the floor in the kitchen thro not being secured properly I would assume.
So I went thro immigration in Mexico, customs, every X-ray they owned, to change my flight, there was no problems, I even got a window seat, although when I got on the plane, late, because I missed the announcement, a short plump Mexican had my seat all neatly arranged with his pillow and my pillow, a newspaper and Magazine, so I had a great delight moving all this to his seat!
That was the total of the excitement there was on that flight and it landed uneventfully in Frankfurt.
So it was out of the Flughafen and on to Klon to surprise the mother on one of my ex staff. Surprise her I did and we had a great evening catching up on the news, I also took the opportunity of repacking so I only carried a small suitcase leaving the large one there to collect on the way back.
So I cruised across Germany, Belgium, and part of France to Dannes near Boyaqnge on the French coast near Calais. There were a terrible lot of road works all the way across Germany & Belgium, but once I got to France and their 130Km P.H. toll road it was plain cruising. Mileage from Frankfurt 788km.
There is a problem cruising like I am and that is to find a telephone link to get on line with my roaming internet software.
Have tried my first French B&B one person 38 which in our money is not cheap, but it is clean and has hot water and a nice view, it is part of a network it appears, throughout France, if they have a internet site I will make a link later!
It is cold on this side of France so I might head off to the Mediterranean side of France / Spain. I had to buy a jersey today a nice maroon fine one, now it is better.
As I left the region I found a fisherman's market, right by the wharf, it was a specially constructed Concrete shops open to the elements, that you could hose down when you were finished. IF the Health Dept allowed it, OSCH would probably find something wrong, or the self appointed environment police would complain about something! There is nothing like a little bit of history to make everyone run scared and leave things alone.
Went over two incredible bridges today, the second cost 5 which is not cheap! It would have made a incredible Photograph. There was a path beside the road, not fenced off, that the public could walk over the bridge, at home it would require a fence that you could not climb over to hurl yourself in front of the oncoming traffic. They seem to have enough sense here with most things they do to say if you are silly enough to stand in front of a truck you will get run over! Really it does not require any brains to work that out, but our people in parliament probably have not considered that possibility.
Went into a French supermarket today and realized just what a assortment of food they have here in France, makes out supermarkets pale in comparison, but I must admit ours are slowly getting better, perhaps in another 50 or so years!
At a guest hose on a farm neat St Lo tonight nice walk into town down a long tree lined drive way. There was a memorial in the village for the resistance fighters that were executed by the 2nd panzer division around D Day. The Normandy landings were in this area.
feel as if I am going down with the flu so I have just
started a course of Coldrex tablets, that usually clears
it up, I hope it does this time.
Today I drove to Cholet and the Coldrex tablets seem to be working, but by 3.30 I was getting tired so I found this hotel and decided to call it a day.
I have just returned from driving around Cholet trying to find an internet Café, but it is not to be found in this town.
This morning started off overcast like every morning so far with a temperature of about 8d C and like all days so far the sun has came out for about one hour in the late afternoon.
In all of my driving so far almost 2000 kms across Europe I have been passed only by one Ferrari and a blue one at that, but I have been passes by just about everything else from a Peugeot 106 up, like the old saying size does not matter in this country anyhow!
Butchers are alive and well in this country, but they
have branched into a delicatessens, and fine goods, probably
our laws would not permit raw meat being handled on one
side of the shop and prepared on the other, it seems what
ever is banned in NZ is working well in France, but of
course what do they know?
Mileage from Frankfurt 1680km.
I was in luck they sold the Telecom cards, but they did not have a internet computer of course, neither did the next, or the next, or the next, or the next, or the next, but the next one my luck changed, I ran over a sharp object in the grounds of the Aire and slit the tyre, this greeted me as I was ready to drive onto the next Aire, at this stage I was about 30k from Bordeaux.
So I pulled over and thought this will be a quick stop while I change the wheel, WRONG, on the new cars they do not have any spare tyre of any sort, just a can of sealer and a small battery compressor, instructions say if it is a tear it will not seal, well they had that right!
So I rang the 800 number for Budget France and quite frankly they were not interested, but he did give me another number to ring (just as well I had the Telecom card) and yes they could speak English and after being transferred to about four different people, and ringing them back twice and the card being down to four units left out of 50, they said we do not have and Audi's in our fleet, I said is that not Budget, they said NO, (the screen rights to this are for sale) so then I did what I should have done in the first place rang Frankfurt.
Of course I did have to buy another card, no the visa card would not work on the phone, so after two calls to them they said on a Saturday they could not contact anyone, no one was answering the call. At this stage I could see my self being at this Aire forever or close to! So the next stage was to remove the wheel and get a Taxi to the closest town, Have I said no one at the shop that I was at could speak English, no well where do you think I was in England? Well between me and a customer who could speak just enough the girl said the taxi would be too expensive and if I would get the papers for the car she would ring the gendarmerie and they would come for nothing, 20 minutes she indicated with her fingers.
Well 30 minutes later this massive tow truck appeared, my first thought was this ain't for nothing! So back on the wheel went and onto the back of the truck went the Audi, and we set of in to the never never, thro more grape vines than there probably in all of NZ and finally we arrived at this town called Blayne. They collect a tyre from a service station and went on to the Garage and about 45 minutes ( it would have been less if the office girl did not have to make about four phone call about the tyre) later I was on my way. Time from puncture to on the move four hours! And only cost 350! Shit!!!!
Now I was in Blayne, it was late enough so I booked into the hotel down the road, then drove about a bit, seems like I had landed in the heart of one of the Bordeaux wine growing areas, according to the notice board in the center of town there are only 102 vineyards from which you can by wine by the single bottle. Tom Holt would have thought he had died and gone to heaven! I have just found out that there are 450 registered vineyards in this region and it dates to pre roman times. Hell that is old!!!!
They grow White & red wines in this area. Be a interesting business for someone to collect a bottle from each vineyard and make up a set for shipping overseas!
You can cycle from vineyard to vineyard on a special trail, I am not sure what would happen after about the 10th or 20th, perhaps they are tricycles!
It would be interesting to travel around them all, buy one bottle from each and shop the 100 + back to NZ. Could be an interesting project one day!
Saw my second Ferrari this afternoon a petrol head was doing wheelies in a cloud of dust and pulled up near me so I wandered over and indicated that I had a 328, his was a 308 and he proudly told me his was the fiberglass model, it has a beautiful finish to it! He indicated it was worth about 45,000 I assume that is what he paid for it and not what it will be worth shortly, he had the nerve to ask mr if I wanted to buy it, after that Wheelie!
There was an interesting say 1920-30's Renault in need of restoration at a second hand shop so I would assume it is for sale. Good project for somebody in Christchurch, the city with more restored old cars per head of pop than I would guess anywhere in the world!
it is still a beautiful day, the sun is shining and it
is a very nice evening!
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