Mex1: the hidden port

28 08 2009
tube hunters

tube hunters

Random bits and pieces from a trip to Puerto Escondido, Chacahua and Oaxaca. Because I can’t be bothered writing a coherent, flowing account.

lambs to the slaughterInbound trip by the numbers:

Hours spent waiting for taxi in Boston = 0.75

Hours spent waiting to check-in at Boston airport = 2

Hours Boston flight was delayed due to fog = 2

Hours spent stuck in Houston due to missed connection = 21

Hours spent enjoying Houston = 1.5 (bought a sixpack).

One of the funniest moments occurred one evening when we headed out for a meal between torrential monsoon showers.

After dodging along under various awnings to reach our chosen spot, Dave ordered, then ducked off to the ATM for some cash.

At this point it was still pouring and none of us were wearing shoes. Dave soon returned, looking a little shaken.

Apparently he had stepped off the sidewalk into a puddle and felt his leg start to spasm. He then stepped in with his other foot which also gave way, before he realised he was being electrocuted.

After staggering clear of the killer puddle, he collapsed on the street and turned to see nearby shopkeepers not running to help, but falling over themselves with laughter.

We wore shoes a bit more after that.

heaven on a stick

heaven on a stick


Now, I just don’t think I could get by in Mexico without the Paleterias.

Forget the Cervecerias and even the Taquerias – Paletas win.

Here, the sweaty tourist can find ice-cold fruit drinks and fruity popsicles (paletas) in all manner of weird and wonderful tropical flavours, each for around a buck.

Coconut and cinnamon milk-drink was my preferred beverage and when it comes to the popsicles, well…mango is pretty good, as is lime, fresh coconut ain’t bad, but the king of the popsicles is guyanabana.

I don’t even know what it is, but it tastes great and it’s also fun to say.

Puerto proper

Now, when you book a surfing holiday to some exotic locale known worldwide for its thumping surf, it may pay to check who else is in town that week.

Somehow I had my two-week break coincide with the waiting-period for the 3-star Quik WQS comp in Puerto this year, a mistake I hope never to repeat.

The extra people in town were kind of fun. But when those same extra folk are 100 or so of the world’s best up-and-coming surfers, it’s less fun.

Those fuckers were all over everything that broke, from 3ft windswell to double-head closeouts and Puerto isn’t a wave where you want to be pushed into a less-than-favourable take-off point.

It’s still a great town though, heaps of fun travellers, cheap eats, cold beer, happy locals.

Ahhh Mexico, how I love thee  – let me count the ways…

flat day fun

flat day fun

The Beacon

28 08 2009

While recently browsing the wall of retired cameras that came with our apartment, I stumbled across one humble looking fellow who looked as if he might still work.

the fantastic plastic 50s Beacon

the fantastic plastic 50s Beacon

A little digging around  online confirmed this vintage snapper as a Beacon 225 – a stylish Bakelite plastic creation from the 50s, and still in perfect working order. Sweet!

Not only is it a med-format point-n-shoot (crazy in itself..),  you also have to pull the ‘lens’ out from the body before shooting. Ha!

After a bit of work with a pocketknife I was able to wrangle a roll of ‘modern’ medium-format film into the beast’s innards, and I set off for NYC, confident the muggers there would not bother stabbing me for anything less than a digital Nikon D90.

The pics weren’t bad,  I double-exposed a bunch on purpose and a bunch more because I am a moron, but that’s the fun of it, right?

New Bedford house and ...Brooklyn bridge. whoops.

New Bedford house and ...Brooklyn bridge. whoops.

nyc upview


croquet is so stupid. lawn bowls, now there's a sport.

croquet is so stupid. lawn bowls, now there's a sport.

this one was intentional.

this one was intentional.

staying out of trouble

13 08 2009

When I tell people I’m in New Bedford on holiday, they usually look at me sideways before asking why i didn’t go somewhere a little more exotic

What they don’t realise is that immersing myself deep within the strangeness of small-town New England, is exotic for this Australian boy.

I work twice a week, tops, for tips.  I go to the beach and read magazines, I walk down the street for taquitos at No Prob, I wander round town shooting pics of beat-up buildings and fishing boats. It’s a holiday. More or less.

What it also does is provide me time to do some writing, a neglected pasttime in recent years and one which I truly enjoy, if I find the time to attack it properly. But I’ve had time and I’ve done some writing.


Before you set foot out your door and head anywhere (yep, even your hometown) bang the destination into Matador’s search box and see what folks there have to say about it.

Matador is an incredible community of cluey, worldly, open-minded travellers who also like to write.  Every week I find amazing, gripping, well-crafted stories on there, covering everything from The World’s Best Nude Beaches to What To  Do When Your ESL Student Has A Crush On You.

And I can count myself among their tribe. See a piece on WA highlights here and another on sailing the world here.

scenes like this make me physically homesick. 3 Bears.

scenes like this make me physically homesick. 3 Bears.

While i was writing the WA article I came across an hilarious story explaining Australia to foreigners on BBC’s site. “Do not under any circumstances suggest that the beer is imperfect, unless you are comparing it to another kind of  Australian beer.” Check it.

Thanks also to talented Danish photog Flemming Bo Jensen for letting me use his outrageously good pics of NW Aus.

Flemming Bo goodness. The essence of the Kimberley.

Flemming Bo goodness. The essence of the Kimberley.

Lost At E Minor

Raiders of the lost art.

The LAEM crew are either incredible at managing their time, unemployed, or have desk jobs that require them to do nothing. This is the only explanation  for the wealth of new talent and previously-unseen beauty that they uncover.

Dedicated to unearthing ‘new art’ Lost At E Minor brightens up the glummest day by showcasing the fresh, the new, the inspired and the downright weird, from across the globe.

They’re simply awesome and now I write for them too.

PS – this update was made possible by being stuck overnight in Houston on my way to Mexico. On my birthday.

Fuck Continental Airlines and fuck you too,  Houston.  Texas…good grief.

United States of Strange. Part 3: A Trip to the Feast

6 08 2009

‘Are you gonna be here for the Feast?’

‘Have you heard about the Feast?’

‘Only one week til the Feast…’

This is all I have heard from the New Bedfordites since arriving at the start of June.

The Feast of the Blessed Sacrament has been running 95 years and purports to be — among other things — the largest Portuguese feast in the world, and to hold a record for the most wine consumed per square foot, anywhere in the world.

No one seems to know exactly what it celebrates; a festival of Madeiran culture seems to be the popular answer.

But if this is Madeiran culture, I can only advise you stay the hell away from that particular island.

Cardoza looks for a fire pit to sear his meat

Cardoza looks for a fire pit to sear his meat

Despite the vaguely religious title, the Feast involves thousands of people crowding into the Feast Grounds (a park which remains empty 361 days a year), and getting absolutely hammered on cheap wine and beef.

But that sounds right up Ben’s alley, I hear you say.

Yeh, kind of, but this one was a bit of a letdown after hearing the hype for the past three months.

and you wonder why kids are scared of clowns?

and you wonder why kids are scared of clowns?

I guess it’s fun for locals to catch up with their mates if they can push through the crowd, but one night of having my feet stepped on and overproof Madeiran wine sloshed all over me was enough. It goes on for four days…

There are also fights all weekend, grabbing girls’ asses is considered fair game by the throngs of teenagers and they don’t serve wine in bottles anymore after someone was killed a few years back.

Classy, right? I call: Hoax.

United States of Strange. Part 2: Life Downtown

6 08 2009

As I mentioned above, New Bedford is wearing a little thin.

People here are just…odd. Not all of them, but there is definitely an epicentre of weirdness here downtown, centred not far from our door.

One visitor asked if there was a methadone clinic nearby, which gives you some insight as to the type of folk who inhabit our doorstep.

Neck tattoos are also popular among the downtown crowd, men and women alike.

fishermen are among the more sensible NB inhabitants

fishermen are among the more sensible NB inhabitants

Many of the shops close to home are vacant, as are nearby malls and whole villages. It’s kind of sad, but also creepy and rundown – you wonder what the future holds for these little burbs.

There’s no Main Street, USA – just a loose collection of whale-themed giftshops, restaurants, newsagents and galleries scattered here and there and not nearly enough good bars.

The bus-station is a preferred hangout for the strangest of the townsfolk, a confusing mix of white guys who think they’re black and black guys trying to look like wealthy white guys.

Incidentally, does anyone know why the current gangster fashion involves dressing like toddlers?

T-shirts that come down to their knees, brightly coloured trainers and baseball caps cocked down over one eye. They look like giant five-year-olds escaped from kindy. Fuckin’ peanuts.

United States of Strange. Part 1: Notes on a Big City.

6 08 2009
times square busy busy busy

times square busy busy busy

Growing tired of increasingly weird New Bedford, I took a midweek trip to New York city with fellow foreigner, Joaŏ, an engineer who hails from Portugal.

After a few hours chugging south on the bus, we stepped out into the bustling heat of Chinatown, NYC, on a steamy midafternoon.

Cheap eats abound here, but not cheap accommodation. Hmph.

Organised as ever, we had nothing booked, so we called around to find many places full, before settling on an overpriced double room in Chelsea, the Big Apple’s Big Gay Heart.

Did anyone else know about this den of same-sex love?

Anyway, it wasn’t so bad once you got used to the men in leather chaps asking if you’d like to step into their blacked-out bar and we quickly discovered an upside.

Stepping out for an evening beer on our first summery night in Chelsea we picked a curbside bar to watch the parade of well-groomed man-couples walking tiny dogs.

Our handsome waiter however, wasted no time plying us with free beers after the first round.

We tipped him well and walked away confused as to what was expected of us.

It probably didn’t help we were two blokes wandering round together, occasionally hand-in-hand, but only when we were scared…

central park

central park

foggy skyline from the 25th floor

foggy skyline from the 25th floor

The rest of the city was a blast to explore and easy too, linked by a devastatingly effective, clean, subway system.

It’s even air-conditioned – take note, London transport people.

Highlights included bumbling along through Central Park on a sunny afternoon, tearing through peak-hour traffic on rented cycles and standing in line for 45 minutes at some unnamed nightclub before realising the prick on the door was only letting women and his mates in.

times square again

times square again

NYC itself was kind of groovy, but suffers from that affliction common to so many big cities which sees numerous inhabitants just trying a bit too hard.

The other interesting thing was the mix of cultures. Or rather, the lack of mixing.

The joint is home to sooo many different folks of different strokes, but there is really little or no interaction.

Black guys hang on the corner talking to black guys. Indian cab drivers talk Hindi to their colleagues. The sound of Mandarin echoes through every Chinese bbq. Jewish deli owners serve mainly Jewish clients. Mexican cleaners work alongside Mexican cleaners.

A melting pot it ain’t. People just swirl around the Manhattan salad bowl while staying strangely apart from their fellows.

brooklyn mural

brooklyn mural