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    Archive for May, 2009

    Day 1.148 – Dragonflies (or: Am I Pregnant?)

    Sunday, May 31st, 2009

    Green Point -> Hampton Springs
    Distance (km) : 145
    Time on bike : 6h 53m
    Brutto time: 08.55 – 19.00
    Avg : 21.0
    Max.speed: 29.2
    Total (km) : 48.589
    Altitude: 1 m
    Difficulty: 4½ of 5

    There’s nothing quite like starting your day off with a flat tire – knowing that the bugs will try and kill you as soon as you pop your head out of the tent, oh, my little safe nylon heaven!

    The Forgotten Coast, near Carrabelle Beach.

    Anyway, bugs (some nasty biting flies, the size and attitude of the Central African tse-tse fly. Serious monster!) weren’t all that bad and I was rolling again before 9AM.

    A bit down the road Carrabelle Beach was a treat. At the public restrooms I had an outdoor shower, shampoo and all (first time in 10 days), great facilities, right on the pretty beach. Lots of dragonflies too. And judged by the size of these critters they could be some real bad guys, but somehow the dragonflies did pay attention back in the days when the insects went to school, and they don’t disturb humans.

    Lunch time!

    Florida. Could I live here? Quite easily and happily. Even before my hair turns gray!

    Ochlockonee Bay, Florida.

    “Isn’t it too hot for cycling today?”, a girl asks me from the passenger seat of a pick-up truck while I’m having a drink, cooling off in the shade. “You should be going to the beach!”. The temperature is in the mid-90s (some 35 degrees C) and I couldn’t really disagree, but didn’t feel like another WT rundown so I just gave her a smile and a shrug. On a mission.

    Tune of the Day: Shattered Dreams - Johnny Hates Jazz

    The headwind is mild but consistent all day. It makes for some pretty tough 145 km today. Around 100 km of today’s ride go through beautiful, lush pine tree forests, along dead-straight roads for 5-10 km at a time. I just keep turning those pedals. Round and round they go. At the end of the day I think to myself that I’ve had enough of pine trees for the day. I run out of water before I reach Hampton Springs, due to a complete (and surprising) lack of facilities the last 42 km. Tongue out of mouth like a dog, dry as sand paper, mind focused on that cola.

    Lush cycling in Florida.

    At the counter at a gas station in Hampton Springs I buy a liter of Coke and randomly ask the woman how much a night at the campsite in the back is. I’ve been in guerilla camp mode ever since I arrived here in the US, and didn’t plan on staying in a camp site tonight, but when the women says “It’s 5 dollars, darling”, we have a deal. The brand new bathrooms (80.000 USD I was told) at the Rocky Campground come highly recommended!

    A tired me after 145 km on the road...Hampton Springs, Florida/US

    853 km since I left New Orleans 6 days ago. My ass’s hurting from all that cycling and it looks like a rest day tomorrow.

    I’ve been craving for mustard and pickles lately. Weird isn’t it? It makes me wonder: Am I pregnant?

    I finish off the day sitting on the grass next to my bike and my pitched tent, with a large can of cold beer in my hand, birds in the trees go crazy in the early nightfall, it’s a precious moment, for the birds and for me too…

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Words from Florida, US…(English only)

    Saturday, May 30th, 2009

    For some reason I can’t update my status here on WT. I guess it’s a sign that I should put these words together then…

    I’m in smalltown Port St. Joe, in Southwestern Florida, where I’ve set up my mobile WT-office (laptop, iPod, harddrive etc. ) at the local library. It’s a beautiful setting for a bit of catching up.

    Days here in the US continue on the same, great string. I wild camp every night, eat peanut butter + jam sandwiches for breakfast, baked beans from the can for dinner, and drink tap water from gas stations/McDonald’s/Taco Bell’s. It’s a very simple life and I’m loving it.

    People are extremely friendly here. Everyone wants to talk, and I’m easy these days. Yesterday, eg. I was handed a 10 USD gift card for the Publix Supermarket by a beautiful soul named Pam near Walton (still FL), with whom I’d just had a little chat in front of that supermarket, while I was resting my legs. How can you be anything but grateful being here, experiencing (bits of) this, in so many ways, great country.

    Robbie and I at Bikes Plus...

    As you may have noticed (through Facebook), I’ve decided to skip my original US plan of “just” going down to Miami. Instead I’ll turn left once I hit the Atlantic coast near Jacksonville, and go all the way up to The Big Apple. I mean, how can I not do that?

    Visa wise, I should be fine (until August 4).

    Money wise, I just need to eat more of those beans (they even come in a spicy Mexican ranchero style that I love) and run into more great people (no one mentioned this time, no one forgotten), and I’ll be fine.

    Physically, it won’t be a problem at all. Body’s strong as ever before. Leg’s know what I expect from them. They know what to do. And they continue to give me the hell of a good time here in the US. God bless my legs.

    Mentally, I’m thrilled at the thought of going up the east coast to New York. There’s even a few Band of Horses gigs along the way that I’ll see if I can catch.

    Where to next?
    From here it’s around 2.200 km to New York. I don’t know when I’ll get there. Over the last 4 days, I’ve pedalled a whopping 560 km, thus averaging 140 km/day, and with that momentum, I’d be in NYC mid-June (which I really have no intention to do). I reckon beginning July, I guess. Maybe. :-)

    Hope all is just as negotiable and sunny in your corners of the world.

    Nicolai

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    Day 1.147 – The Birds of Freedom

    Saturday, May 30th, 2009

    Mexico Beach -> Green Point
    Distance (km) : 77
    Time on bike : 3h 45m
    Brutto time: 06.35 – 20.40
    Avg : 20.5
    Max.speed: 47.5
    Total (km) : 48.444
    Altitude: 1 m
    Difficulty: 2 of 5

    I’m now on US Eastern Time, which means I lost one hour of sleep last night, but it also means that I’m one hour closer to home. That sweet home of mine…

    Wild camp in Mexico Beach, Florida.

    As usual I wake up early, before sunrise, in my little tent, that I put up on a vacant lot in a residential area near the beach late last night. The early morning dogs all know I’m here, in my nylon bubble, and they’re hanging to come and get a good sniff at me, dragging the leash to get their owner over to my stealth camp site. I’m as quiet as can be, and trying to settle a canine agreement to try and keep them from barking, and just pretend I’m not there, ‘cos that’s how I prefer it when I’m in my tent. To be invisible, unnoticeable.

    Brekkie on the road...It's peanut butter AND jam...and a 1 USD cappuchino.

    In Port St. Joe a local character show me the way to the library, where I set up my laptop and enjoy 6 straight hours of wireless connection to the world (no drinks, no food, no pee, just 6 intense hours of WT work, ‘cos I do care about my readers :-) ). Such a great service at the library, staff very friendly.

    WT working at the public library in Port. St. Joe...

    It’s a great 30 km stretch from Port St. Joe to Apalachicola through more lush pine forests with that beautiful smell that I never tire of. Sky’s blue, trees so green (it’s been raining a lot lately here in Florida, not so today), asphalt smooth, tailwind mild. Real heaven.

    Lovely pine tree forest cycling...

    Apalachicola church...

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    I feel so endlessly free here/now, as if I was in orbit, not in outer space, but around our planet, free-flowing and with one of life’s greatest gifts, The Birds of Freedom, sitting on my shoulders. That sense of freedom makes me very happy here in the US, and sometimes those Birds of Freedom make my eyes all wet.

    5 km bridge across Apalachicola River...

    Leaving Port St. Joe at 5PM I somehow manage to rack up 77 km in the late afternoon. At dusk I turn off Hwy 98 and into an empty construction site of sorts, with a few excavators on site. Since tomorrow is Sunday I expect those monster machines to be quiet in the early hours. Soon the horsefly hell takes over. They are everywhere all the time. My bushman repellent (30% DEET) is only partly successful and a few buggers still give me a nasty bite that leaves a super itchy mark the size of 3 mosquito bites. Very frustrating. Very frustrating when all you want is peace and quiet while you eat your dinner and set up your camp for the night. Even my most vital parts (in a strictly reproductive sense) get bitten.

    Dusk at Green Point, The Forgotten Coast, Florida.

    Nasty buggers! I mean, how do you get a horsefly sucking the bejesus out of your reproductive organ off you? You don’t wanna just slap it as you’d do, had it been sitting anywhere but right there, would you…

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    Day 1.146 – Happiness

    Friday, May 29th, 2009

    Fort Walton Beach -> Mexico Beach
    Distance (km) : 150
    Time on bike : 7h 27m
    Brutto time: 06.25 – 20.00
    Avg : 20.0
    Max.speed: 48.9
    Total (km) : 48.367
    Altitude: 1 m
    Difficulty: 3½ of 5

    Early morning camp in Fort Walton Beach.

    It’s to be a beautiful, beautiful day along Florida’s Gulf Coast. This is definitely a wealthier corner of the country and everywhere I see neck-turning huge cars that make me wish. I see lots of fitness people. It happened several times today that I went “oh-la-la” when – from a distance – I’d see some fit girl doing her quotidian things. Then up close I’d notice the wrinkled orange peel skin that testified a birth certificate from before WWII, and I’d go “may-not-so-oh-la-la, Nicolai”.

    Near Destin, Florida.

    In Destin I decide it’s time for some topless cycling. Weather is p-e-r-f-e-c-t and every one wears almost nothing around here anyway. A lady doing her (daily, I’d assume, judged by her extreme fitness) run stops when she passes me, and asks if I want her to put some sun screen on my back. Would you believe it! As I told her: This is real road side service to me. Forget about the Tour de France and all the cars handing out water bottles and snacks. This is what we want, fit women rubbing sun screen on your back. I guess that was yet another “first of” for me. More of that, please.

    East of Destin, Florida.

    Another long concrete bridge to cross...

    Cycling from Destin to Panama City Beach along the Emerald Coast Parkway is like one long, beautifully manicured stretch of recreational space, a bit like a theme park (in a good way), and it’s really pretty. Love it here. Very impressive. Very rich. Sometimes a bit too Alvin’s Islandish (Americans will know what I’m taling about here).

    The angry (nesting) birds fucking shit on me!!!

    Going to the beach!

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Food vendors, Destin, Florida.

    Florida's Gulf of Mexico beaches...

    Thought of the Day: The only thing I could possibly wish for at the moment is more iPod battery time…(And I’m not kidding)

    Glitzy and tacky Panama City, Florida.

    Panama City, Florida.

    It's not all glitter and gold down here!

    Sunset cycling through the Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

    Going east!

    On an empty lot I put up my tent after my late arrival at Mexico Beach. I hadn’t been allowed to stop for the night the previous 30 km through the Tyndall Air Force Base, as – some army guy with general attitudes told me – the army guys would just kick me out of there. In other words, I wasn’t allowed to do anything on the air force base, and since my bike still doesn’t know how to go back the same way it came, I had no choice but to keep pedalling through the dusk, through the lonely pine tree forests.

    Dusk at Mexico Beach - Florida.

    I grab a cold beer, my can of Van Camp’s “Pork and beans”, some bread and go down to the beach where – sitting on a bench with silence and freedom all around me – I let the night suck out the last daylight and see all the stars come out. The breeze from the Gulf of Mexico is mild like we never have it in Denmark. It’s one of these moments that you – a long-distance cyclist or otherwise – would die for.

    So, if you want to know what happiness is, just grab your bike, ride through the world for some 48.000 km, eat your beans from the can, have a pilsner, and then lean backwards with your eyes glued to the starry sky, looking at all or nothing, Band of Horses in your ears (music choice is yours), letting peace hit you from top down. That, my dear WT-reader, is happiness…

    (Well, it’s my version of happiness, and I’m pretty sure there’s gotta be some sort of shortcut somewhere for you…)

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    US Log Updated

    Friday, May 29th, 2009

    See link for a statistical update on my whereabouts:

    US log updated

    Klik på linket for en statistisk opdatering af min seneste US-færden:

    US-logbog opdateret

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    Day 1.145 – Shit From Heaven

    Thursday, May 28th, 2009

    Perdido Pass (AL) -> Fort Walton Beach (FL)
    Distance (km) : 109
    Time on bike : 5h 17m
    Brutto time: 06.25 – 18.30
    Avg : 20.5
    Max.speed: 42.2
    Total (km) : 48.217
    Altitude: 1 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Early morning camp at the Perdido Pass Bridge, Alabama.

    Sunrise on my first day in Florida...

    Worn tire after some 8.500 km...

    Bike mechanic Robbie and I. Pensacola, Florida.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Having a break in Pensacola, Florida.

    Bridge outside of Pensacola...

    Gulf Breeze, Florida's panhandle.

    Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida.

    This is where the mad seashore birds started shitting on me. Too many times. They obviously didn’t like my cycling through their nesting territory. Not a very fine welcome to Florida!

    Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida.

    The angry (nesting) birds fucking shit on me!!!

    Dinner at a park in Fort Walton Beach:
    My Campbell’s Spaghetti Meatballs can says: Ready in 3 minutes.. Not true. In my non-stove world (I sent my stove back to Denmark months ago), the spaghetti is ready to eat straight from the can. And I really do enjoy this stuff. Mind you, I’ve been pedalling all day and the hole in my stomach grows towards the end of the day, and at less than a dollar I’m not complaining.

    After my canned dinner a part of me feels like cycling again. Not like in Mexico, where I (sort of) just wanted to keep moving, but simply because I enjoy cycling here so much. Sleeping is boring compared to the ever-changing horizons on the bike…

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    Day 1.144 – Alabama’s Stunning Gulf Coast

    Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

    Ocean Springs (MS) -> Perdido Pass (AL)
    Distance (km) : 143
    Time on bike : 7h 03m
    Brutto time: 06.30 – 20.00
    Avg : 20.3
    Max.speed: 44.3
    Total (km) : 48.108
    Altitude: 1 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Morning camp in Oceans Springs, 20 meters from the railroad...

    Welcome to Alabama, US

    My baby waiting patiently for her master (drinking coffee) to get going…

    My baby waiting patiently for her master (drinking coffee) to get going...

    Pelicans on the run!

    Great cycling along Alabama's Gulf coast...

    If only you could smell those pines…

    Dauphin Island, Alabama.

    Dauphin Island, Alabama.

    5 USD ride from Dauphin Island to Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores. Alabama 2009.

    Great cycling on Gulf Shores, Alabama...

    Gulf Shores Beach, Alabama.

    Sandy shoulder on Alabama's Gulf coast...

    Perdido Pass Bridge...

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Day 1.143 – Leaving New Orleans

    Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

    New Orleans (LA) -> Ocean Springs (MS)
    Distance (km) : 163
    Time on bike : 6h 55m
    Brutto time: 09.30 – 20.00
    Avg : 23.5
    Max.speed: 49.8
    Total (km) : 47.965
    Altitude: 3 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Clouds coming in!

    I keep finding so many dimes and nickels and pennies (and the odd quarters) in the street that it makes me wonder if it’s officially illegal here in the US to pick ‘em up once you’ve dropped them.
    I can honestly say by now that I’ve got a very trained eye for those coins in the roadside, and I mostly stop to pick them up. ‘Cos it all adds up and a free cup of coffee, is a free cup of coffee…

    Dramatic skies over Louisiana...

    Leaving New Orleans after 6 nights in that great city feels good. I feel totally at ease back on the bike. I don’t expect anything from myself other than riding and that alone gives me an enormous sense of well-being. And ride I do today. Unexpectedly, I end up cracking a century (so the bike people sometimes call it when you ride a 100 miles) and find a little spot for my tent behind a factory building right next to the railroad, in Oceans Springs, Mississippi.

    Crossing a swamp in eastern Louisiana.

    Pitstop

    The Bugger...

    Tune of the Day: Tobaksvejen - C.V. Jørgensen (Danish)

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    New Photo Albums from Honduras & El Salvador

    Monday, May 25th, 2009

    The heavy rain here in New Orleans has delayed my departure. This means more time for WT work, more joys for you (I suppose) out there. I’ve just made two new photo albums…

    1. Photo Album from Honduras (13 photos)

    2. Photo Album from El Salvador (27 photos)

    Back soon.

    Nicolai

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    Day 1.142 – Sewing (or trying to)

    Monday, May 25th, 2009

    It’s been raining cats and dogs most of the day. Not just the odd downpour but some serious buckets along with the occasional loud thunder. The adventure part of me feel like a whimp for letting the rain delay my New Orleans departure, but who cares.

    Looking at possible West African routes, checking visa regulations and climate charts (incl. precipitation, ‘coz they do tend to get some seriously muddy dirt tracks in these corners!), and doing all the logistical/planning things that my WT assistant would’ve done for me, had I had one. But this is a solo project and thus I’ll have to row my own boat.

    I’ve started dreaming about the new Canon EOS D50 SLR camera, the reviews of this beautiful baby are awesome. I sometimes feel that my aspirations and ambitions as a photographer are somehow limited by the scope of my camera equipment, but I guess I’ll have to live with that for now.

    Sewing (trying to) in New Orleans.

    Both of my bike pants have been ripped for quite a while now. The tear’s been growing and growing, and since I’m not exactly Mr. Dressmaker I’ve just been watching the tear grow passively. And lately with a bit of anxiety as well, since the cut got so long (we’re talking 10 cm and growing), that the whole leg of the bike pant probably would fall off some time soon, at a point so high up on the bike pants that it might leave me in an awkward situation with surprised onlookers and exposed agates. We don’t want that.

    Wasn't pretty, but it did the trick...

    So, after all, I decided to try and fix the thing today. It’s been so many years since I sewed anything. Been trying to avoid it, to be honest. But since I’ve done nothing physically all day, I couldn’t justify not trying to do the repair. My grandmom Ella, who – by the way – happened to be a talented dressmaker, probably wouldn’t have been too proud of me (she most likely turned over in her grave just now), but I got the job done, and my repairs will prevent me from getting these weird spots of suntan where the holes used to expose my sugar-white thighs.

    Just before dusk I go for a little Koga spin to and around the beautiful Aubudon Park on the western outskirts of uptown. I take three circular rounds in the park, 22 minutes and nigh on 10 km in total, without my hands touching the handle bar. Not even once. Why? Because I like a challenge now and then and because I like riding my bike without touching the handle bar.

    Tomorrow will have to be rain-free – or at least less torrential as today! Fingers crossed.

    (Photos to come – stay tuned)

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    Day 1.141 – My Room

    Sunday, May 24th, 2009

    My room on Dufossat Street, New Orleans Uptown.

    Nothing much to write about today. My eyes are glued to the LCD-screen of my laptop most of the day. That’s how things go sometimes.

    New Orleans

    New Orleans Street Car...

    Still lots of considerations about where to go here in the US (Miami or New York) and where to start in Africa (Senegal, Ghana, or maybe Nigeria)…Will be back whenever I find out.

    Spanish Moss in New Orleans.

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    Day 1.140 – Squirrels

    Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

    Dayride: 43 km. To Aubudon Park, Bayou St. John, Lake Pontchartrain and back to New Orleans uptown.

    The Ace Ventura action starts right at the beginning of this beautiful dayride through New Orleans. I am, always was, and always will be a cat man, but hey, these animals are cute/cool!

    Squirrel in Audubon Park, New Orleans.

    There were tons of them, all sniffing around looking for hand-outs. Had I had my lunch ready (see below) I’d have even considered sharing it with these guys.

    Squirrels in Audubon Park, New Orleans.

    Dragonfly in Audubon Park, New Orleans.

    New Orleans hwy...

    It amazes me how they’ve managed to turn this otherwise inhospitable swamp land into such a liveable space that is New Orleans. I really like what I see today, and New Orleans keeps crawling further up my list of favourite cities…

    Bayou St. Johns Music Festival, New Orleans.

    Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans.

    Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans.

    There’s lots of stuff going on along my ride today. Some music festival at Bayou St. John and a bit further up the bayou a Greek Festival. People really seem to enjoy themselves this Saturday arvo.

    Bayou St. Johns, New Orleans.

    Greek Festival, New Orleans.

    Near Lake Pontchartrain, hunger pangs kick in. I try to ignore them. No such luck. This big fella saved me:

    A delicious footlong sub from Subway...

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    Day 1.139 – The Road Ahead

    Friday, May 22nd, 2009

    New Orleans downtown...

    Bourbon Street, The French Quarter, New Orleans.

    I’ve been battling with a lack of motivation and being tired all day. My mind needs a good rest, needs to not think about anything, but it seems like that’s not going to happen, with free internet access and lots of things to catch up on.

    Have been trying to figure out where I’m going to end my US travels: In Miami, FL or in New York. Am tempted going all the way to the Big Apple, and reckon I’ll have enough time (my visa is 3 months in total) without pushing the envelope.

    On the other hand, leaving from Miami – which is basically just a bit down the road, just turn right after the panhandle – would give me more time (well, I guess I have unlimited time) on the African continent, and would possibly open up more West African territory.

    To cut it down (it’s a bit more complex in my part of the jungle), it’s either Miami or New York, then either Ghana or Senegal and from there up through West/Northwest Africa, Western Europe and Denmark.

    I’ve found some pretty good flight deals, e.g:

    1. NYC-Accra, Ghana on July 24, nonstop (my Koga bike likes that part), 1.200 USD

    or

    2. NYC-Lagos, Nigeria, July 29, 1 stop, at just 760 USD.

    or the quick-and-dirty one

    3. Atlanta-Dakar, Senegal, June 30, nonstop, 1.220 USD.

    Guess I just have to keep pedalling, antennas out and all, in order to figure out the route…

    Entertainment on Bourbon Street...

    Shop on Frenchmen Street, New Orleans.

    Meanwhile, I’ll just put some more photos from yesterday’s sightseeing in downtown New Orleans on the dashboard…

    That's my girl!

    Tune of the Day: Wish You Well - Bernard Fanning

    The New Orleans street car...

    Inside the New Orleans street car...

    Inside the New Orleans street car...

    Library on St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans.

    Eventually, I do manage to get out, to get away from the laptop and in to the mad nightlife of Bourbon Street. What a crazy, happening street. I don’t really talk to a lot of people tonight, I just people-watch, drink my beers cruising the street, listen to some good live rock music, and walk the 5 km back home to Dufossat Street in the middle of the night, because I’m too cheap for taxis.

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    Day 1.138 – Welcome to New Orleans!

    Thursday, May 21st, 2009

    Art Gallery shop front figures on Magazine Street, New Orleans.

    Est. 1976 - just like me!

    Antiquities on Magazine St.

    Porches, New Orleans Uptown.

    Street scene, New Orleans' Garden District.

    Oh, yeah, those loose women...

    Lucky Dogs. New Orleans downtown.

    Shop front on Magazine Street, New Orleans.

    I know it’s not very cool repeating what cool people have already said about cool places, but New Orleans really is a cool place. So vibrant, so alive, so much to visually feast on.

    Flamboyant flag shop, New Orleans.

    I Like This Impala! Note the plate...

    It’s not that other US cities are totally devoid of them, but New Orleans definitely has its share of…umm…interesting people who live a little left (or under/above or wherever) of the centre, who march to their own drum, who may but probably don’t have a place to live, people that would be categorized as weirdos in other parts of the country (I’m assuming here), but who somehow all seem to fit in here in New Orleans.

    Lafayette Square, New Orleans.

    A Local Classic: Beignets and café au lait at the Café Du Monde, New Orleans.

    French Quarter, New Orleans.

    French Quarter, New Orleans.

    Jackson Square, New Orleans.

    Yesteryears...

    We've got it all!

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    Day 1.137 – Privacy in New Orleans

    Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Texas, the ex-stray dog found in...Texas by Ray and Emily...

    Ray and Emily are going on holidays up in the US north east corner for some two weeks, starting today with a long drive up to Rhode Island. Amazingly, they’ve let me stay in their apartment, for as long as I want, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to leave your house to some guy that you knew nothing about 15 hours earlier. I just promise to water Ray’s tomato and watermelon plants in the backyard, and that’s it.

    French toasts with maple syrup, made and served by Emily! Mmm...

    Yet again I’m stunned by their/the US hospitality and trust (not that I’m not a trustworthy person, you know), and though it’s a shame (not this kind of shame :-) ) that we didn’t get to hang out more, sharing stories from the road etc, I do feel exhilaratingly happy about the prospect of having my own (cliché’s coming) home away from home for a little while here in New Orleans.

    Emily, Ray and Texas...

    There’s so much stuff on the internet I want to catch up on (will this lacuna of general info about the world around me do any damage to me in the long run and will my shrinking brain volume ever get back to normal after 3-4 years on the road? I don’t know), and so I spend most of the day deeply buried in the intricate alleyways of the 3xW. With unlimited @, kitchen, and cable TV access I can’t really imagine a more desirable setting for myself right now.

    I only venture out of the apartment for a little walk, to buy 2 second hand books (0.50 $ each, thought I could afford it), and to take this photo: Sexy, isn’t it?

    Sexy!!!

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    Day 1.136 – Am I Under Arrest, Officer?

    Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

    Houma -> New Orleans
    Distance (km) : 91
    Time on bike : 5h 03m
    Brutto time: 12.00 – 18.20
    Avg : 17.9
    Max.speed: 30.5
    Total (km) : 47.736
    Altitude: 3 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Sleeping in Phil’s mom’s house was like sleeping in some antique museum, full of untold stories, full of soul. I had the house all to myself, since Phil’s living nearby with wife Amy (and all the animals) and his mom’s moved to Texas.

    A beautiful living room...

    Phil and his dog Snoopy are already at the house when I wake up. Along with lots of good talk, Phil and I head for The Golden Arch for a nice burrito + coffee brekkie, free of charge. Phil is a fine man.

    Antique

    Phil and I in Houma...

    After the goodbyes with Phil, Snoopy and the cats, I head straight for the library (again) to try and confirm my contact (thru www.warmshowers.org in New Orleans. The facilities at the brand new library are fabulous and I could’ve easily spent a few days just sucking information in books, magazines, and newspapers trying to make my drastically shrinking brain volume grow a little. Feel that I’m in a desperate lack of written words.

    Filling water bottles at the Houma Public Library...

    The swamp scenery continues. A strong headwind is a new player on the field. And it lasts all of today’s 91 km. Bummer, cos it’s such a beautiful day for cycling.

    Louisiana swamp north east of Houma...

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    In the roadside shoulder I suddenly see an unopened package of peanut butter biscuits. I pick it up, check it. Seems dandy. Sherlock Holmes in me notices that the wrapping is still kind of cool/cold, even though the biscuits were lying in the strong sun. Aha, Sherlock says, I’d be damned if someone didn’t put the goodies there for me to pick them up. And so I do. And I eat and I eat, cos that’s what a permanently hungry cyclist does.

    Thanks to whomever put the roadside gift there for me.

    (And a little hint for the future: cyclists might look weird in all that lycra and spandex, they might look way too focused in their cheese-dish cover of concentration, but they do speak, they are humans, and next time you should stop for a little chat, all right)

    Motel 90, Louisiana.

    So I finally get to the Mississippi River. A few bridges span the river, and I just keep going along Hwy 90 since that crossing is nearest to the place in New Orleans where I want to go. People have warned me about the lack of shoulder on the bridge and the nerve-wrecking crossing of the steep bridges.

    The steepness of the Huey P. Long Bridge doesn’t scare me at all. Reg. the lack of shoulder: When I have to, I can keep the bike in a near-straight line, like a tightrobe walker on a bike. So I give it a go. I do notice a sign saying “no cycling on the bridge” but my selective sight ignores it (at the time I knew of no alternatives).

    The first 2 km are all right, traffic is not too bad and all cars give me a wide berth. Then this truck pulls up just behind me, the blinks on and a voice telling me to pull over. A big fella comes out and tells me that I’m not allowed to cycle on the bridge, and asks me to wait. 2 minutes later a police car arrives, the blinks on too and I’m expecting the classic “Freeze, police!!” anytime soon (this is America after all!).

    An officer approaches me, I stretch out my hand to greet him, cos I thought his right hand was about to do the same. Soon turns out that he wants to search me, not greet me. And I was just trying to be polite. The officer is a man of very few words. He basically just puts me in the back of the police car and locks the door. Not exactly the messenger kind of guy. I just sit there, looking at my bike through the window, feeling naked without my handle bar bag, and missing my gear already. The big guy in the truck grabs the bike and puts it on the truck with much less care than I would’ve done it.

    Huey P. Long Bridge that took me over the Mississippi River and into New Orleans...

    The officer gets back into the car. By now the row of cars queing up on the bridge is miles long. Much ado about nothing, if you ask me. I’m taken to the other side of the Mississippi River, some ridiculous 500 m, where another two police cars meet me. They tel me again that I can’t cycle on the bridge, and I politely tell them that I got that part of the message. “Didn’t I see the sign?”, and “No, I didn’t see no sign, officer” (Hard pressed, I do know how to lie). I show the guys my passport and that’s it. No more drama. I can go. What a way to cross one of the greatest rivers in the world! My-oh-my.

    Nice cycling along the levees to keep the Mississippi River from flowing into New Orleans...

    It was just a bit more action than what I’d expected. Nonetheless, cycling through the western suburbs of New Orleans, along a nice bike path on top of the man-made levee, that’s supposed to keep the water out of town in case of flooding of the mighty river, is an important moment for me.

    I find Dufossat St. where Raymond and Emily (and Texas, the former stray dog) lives. They are both cyclists themselves and I’ve found them through Warmshowers.org. They’ve kindly invited me to come and stay in their apartment in uptown New Orleans, and I feel at home right from the start. We, together with Emily’s cousin Moos and his girlfriend Hannah, have a super evening with lots of talk, smiles and my first real southern meal, a shrimp gumbo with rice and homemade corn bread. Delicioso!

    In New Orleans with Ray, Moos, Emily, and Hannah...

    As I lie in “my” bed in “my” room this evening, I feel exhausted (all that headwind, all those new faces), happy (for being in New Orleans, all those new faces) and thrilled at the thought of what lies ahead of me in the Jazz Capital in the World, Nouvelle Orléans.

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    WT Route Map April 2006 – May 2009

    Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

    Wanna to keep track of my whereabouts over the last 3 years? Here you go…
    Click on the link directly below the map for a larger map. You can navigate the map with the mouse and via the menu to the left on the map.

    WT Route Map April 2006 – May 2009

    Some of the points may not be exact but rather serves to give rough idea about my route around the globe.

    You can find the link under the front page menu Routes & Maps for future references.

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    Day 1.135 – The Endless Chain of Southern Hospitality

    Monday, May 18th, 2009

    Patterson -> Houma
    Distance (km) : 65
    Time on bike : 3h 30m
    Brutto time: 07.30 – 12.00
    Avg : 19.3
    Max.speed: 33.0
    Total (km) : 47.650
    Altitude: 5 m
    Difficulty: 1½ of 5

    I’ll let the photos speak for themselves today. There is no way I would be able to fully express the incredible hospitality that keeps blowing my way here in Louisiana (and Texas) anyway…

    The First View...

    Granola brekkie in Morgan City...

    Louisiana Swamps

    Louisiana wetlands b/t Morgan City and Houma...

    Having a second breakfast in front of a church in Gibson, LA.

    Alligator lazing in the sun...

    Great cycling on Hwy 182 towards Houma, LA

    Cemetery in southern Louisiana.

    Reading magazines at the brilliant Public Library in Houma...

    Houma princesses, Phil, his dog, and (not visible here) alligators in the bayou behind them.

    Houma hosts and friends, Amy and Phil...

    I even got my cat fix tonight!

    Nicolai in rare luxury. Houma, Louisiana.

    …and a huge thank you to Phil for “picking me up” in front of that black church in Gibson, setting me up for the night, sharing a lovely dinner with wife Amy, the 12 cats and (was it?) 4 dogs…

    I loved every minute of it!

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Day 1.134 – When Bill handed me a bill

    Sunday, May 17th, 2009

    Lafayette -> Patterson
    Distance (km) : 106
    Time on bike : 4h 48m
    Brutto time: 11.40 – 19.00
    Avg : 22.0
    Max.speed: 41.3
    Total (km) : 47.580
    Altitude: 5 m
    Difficulty: 2½ of 5

    The weather systems have changed dramatically overnight. It’s a cloudy, cool, and rainy day today. Just 20-22 degrees Celsius compared to 30-35 the other day.

    I have my first flat tyre in the US today. After fixing the tube, my pump broke down, and my extra pump didn’t really do the job either, so I dragged the gear to the nearest gas station in search for air. No such luck. But the angels up there weren’t sleeping, they just directed me to Bill…

    Generous Bill.

    …and Bill is a fine man. Not only did he help me inflate my rear tyre with air from his trucks’ air brake system, he handed me a guitar and asked me to play a few tunes, right there next to the truck, he let me take his photo (cos I like taking photos of fine people), he talked to me about his Indian roots and heritage, and (hold on now, folks) he handed me a USD 100 bill, because he thought what I’m doing is courageous and because he just won USD 2.000 at the casino last night. I was absolutely dumbfounded and, as I told him, I will never ever forget his nobel gesture.

    River crossing in southern Louisiana.

    Back on the bike I couldn’t really tell if the shakiness I felt was because of a wobbling rear tyre or because of the incredible generocity that life just spilled on me.

    Tune of the Day: Ragoo - Kings of Leon

    Even with a 100 $ note in my wallet, baked beans & canned corn is what I eat for dinner.

    Wild camping and eating from the can in Patterson, Louisiana.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Top 30 Songs For My Funeral

    Sunday, May 17th, 2009

    I might be a wee bit on the early side with this one, but better early than never. Jesus only lived until 33, like me, and I doubt he got to choose the music for his last crusade…

    1. One – U2
    2. Socker – Kent (S)
    3. No One’s Gonna Love You – Band of Horses
    4. Autumn Leaves – Eva Cassidy
    5. A Thousand Hours – The Cure
    6. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
    7. Cold Water – Damien Rice
    8. Gravedigger – Dave Matthew’s Band
    9. Fade Into You – Mazzy Star
    10. In My Heart – Moby
    11. Into My Arms – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
    12. Crazy Mary – Pearl Jam
    13. Karma Police – Radiohead
    14. Hyperballad – Björk (I)
    15. Wicked Game – Chris Isaac
    16. Ett Slag För Dig – Tomas Andersson Wij (S)
    17. Love Is Stronger Than Death – The The
    18. So This Is Goodbye – Stina Nordenstam (N)
    19. Today – The Smashing Pumpkins
    20. Afraid Not Scared – Ryan Adams
    21. Skygger af skønhed – C.V. Jørgensen (DK)
    22. Fluorescent Lights – Windmill
    23. King of Sorrow – Sade
    24. Pretty Good Year – Tori Amos
    25. I See You, You See Me – The Magic Numbers
    26. The World At Large – Modest Mouse
    27. What If – Coldplay
    28. Endless – Claus Hempler (DK)
    29. 20.000 Seconds – K’s Choice
    30. Ode To My Family – The Cranberries

    () signify country of origin of the Nordic songs: I, Iceland: DK, Denmark: N, Norway: S, Sweden.

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    Day 1.133 – Lafayette (part 2)

    Saturday, May 16th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    The Classic: Edvard Grieg's "Morning" at the Blue Moon Hostel...

    Inside Blue Moon Hostel, Lafayette.

    After some realle sweaty nights in Texas and Louisiana, I decide it’s time to give my sleeping bag a go in the washing machine. The feathers in the down bag seem a bit droopy and we all need a rubdown once in a while.

    US Stereotype #1

    My US beginning has been very overwhelming to me, in a very positive way. I’m eager to get to know this huge country inside out (well, my visa only allows me to stay for 3 months, but I’ll do my best anyway), to get an insight into (bits of) the American cultures (plural, please), to get a grassroot style vision of the country etc. I do love it here.

    The French influence is visible in Lafayette...

    Sculpture in front of the Court House in Lafayette.

    Ever wondered what living in the Frog Capital in The World would be like? I wish I knew…

    Rayne - Frog Capital of The World.

    Gallery shop in Lafayette, Louisiana.

    At the public library in Lafayette I do a bit of a rundown on the tourist brochures and pamphlets. Reading up on Cajun/creole/Louisiana culture – and am now familiar with words like Acadian, rubboard, beignets, antebellum, gumbo, bayou, po-boy… It’s all very interesting to me and part of my American Culture education.

    Louisiana tourist litterature...

    I ran into this fella’ a few times in Lafayette. Marc is his name. He always had a lot of time to talk, lots of stories to tell…

    Mark, the local...

    Didn’t talk to this assumedly homeless guy, but I’m sure he’d have lots of stories to tell too. The world is full of them, stories and interesting souls.

    Weird and homeless in Lafayette?

    Mural in Lafayette...

    Kids cooling off in the park. Lafayette, Louisiana.

    Now what’s the story here? Can anyone enlighten me, please…A Bracelet Tree? I’ve seen a few of them, and the highways are full of these bracelets in the roadside along with all sorts of debris. I actually spend a considerable time scanning the roadside debris, looking for dimes and quarters. It all adds up, and I will soon have enough change from the roadside to get myself a cup of coffee. Free.

    The Bracelet Tree. Lafayette.

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    Satisfaction With Life Index

    Saturday, May 16th, 2009

    The Satisfaction with Life Index is an attempt to show life satisfaction (subjective life satisfaction) in different nations. In this calculation, subjective well being correlates most strongly with health, wealth, and access to basic education.

    This is an example of a recent trend to use direct measures of happiness, such as surveys asking people how happy they are, as an alternative to traditional measures of policy success to GDP or GNP. Some studies suggest that happiness can be measured effectively. (From Wikipedia.org)

    The Satisfaction with Life Index

    As most WT-readers would know by now, I like lists of all sorts. Being a Dane I tend to particularly like this one. It was made a few years ago, in 2006, the year I began this expedition.

    …and you might wanna know why I chose to leave that golden country of Denmark, right there on top of that list, but that’s another story for now. It certainly wasn’t because of dissatisfaction with life, I tell you…

    Have a look at the list. It might bring a few surprises. I was in Turkmenistan in 2006 which is #171 on the list. Georgia is #169. Bulgarians don’t seem to be very happy about life, at #164, whereas Brazilians (#8) and Costaricans (#13) seem to have a blast…

    Nicolai (from The Deep South in country #23 on the list)

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    Milestones Updated, 47K.

    Friday, May 15th, 2009

    See the last milestone installments here

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    Day 1.132 – Lafayette

    Friday, May 15th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    The great Blue Moon Hostel in Lafayette, Louisiana...

    The Blue Moon Hostel is a wonderful, relaxed, bohemian sort-of-place where you just feel right at home. I love it here. Wake up late. Feeling slightly shaken by last night’s Louisiana beers and that old Malibu rum at the Jewish Cemetery after midnight. Didn’t go because I’m a complete weirdo, but because new friends Ben, Amanda, Michael, and Erin (and I) felt it was the right idea at the time. Blame it on the booze.

    Ben and his Honda Pilot (me, envious)...

    Tune of the Day: Death - White Lies

    Girard Park, Lafayette...

    Porch-chilling in Lafayette...

    Benjamin rocks up at the hostel and we go for a little spin (still can’t believe he owns this big Honda Pilot :-) ) down to Girard Park and play some frisbee and chill out in the sunny park.

    Ben, Dylan, and I hanging out in the local deli. Lafayette, LA - US.

    Lots of internet at the hostel, trying to catch up with the last 1½ weeks of bike adventures here in the US. So many stories, so little time.

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    New Google Map Feature on WT!

    Thursday, May 14th, 2009

    Welcome to this new feature! The great Google Maps that makes it possible to keep track of my whereabouts on the planet.

    Please click on the blue “drops” that might (might not) have a little piece of info about the accomodation style (wild camping, private, hostel etc.) or otherwise.

    Regular Google Map Users know it all, but to everyone else, you can choose between a number of viewing modes in the right hand corner (map, sat, terrain) and you can zoom and fiddle around on the navigation bars in the upper left hand corner.

    Also, you can “View Larger Map” by clicking the appropriate button under the map…

    I hope you enoy and see you in Google Map World…


    View

    WT USA Route 2009 in a larger map

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    Day 1.131 – The Rough Rider

    Thursday, May 14th, 2009

    Mermentau -> Lafayette
    Distance (km) : 61
    Time on bike : 3h 22m
    Brutto time: 07.37 – 13.00
    Avg : 18.0
    Max.speed: 31.6
    Total (km) : 47.474
    Altitude: 10 m
    Difficulty: 2 of 5

    What a great first view in the morning!

    Wild camp in Mermentau, LA.

    Wild camp in Mermentau, LA.

    Bargain store. Crowley, Louisiana.

    Bill board in Crowley, Louisiana.

    Can I be someone's Rough Rider?

    The WT Hall of Fame? :-)

    IMG_0544

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    Log Updated

    Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

    Phew, there’s been a lot of great cycling the last 8 days since I arrived here in the US. So many stories yet to be told. Stay tuned.

    For now, the log’s been updated, including the fastest ever WT-day on my first day in the States. A whopping 28.2 km/h over 170 km. Texas, and now Louisiana, has been very good to me so far…

    See log here!

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    Day 1.130 – The Shoes & The Red Box

    Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

    Milestone 2, Hwy 10 -> Mermentau
    Distance (km) : 113
    Time on bike : 5h 30m
    Brutto time: 10.25 – 19.45
    Avg : 20.4
    Max.speed: 43.5
    Total (km) : 47.413
    Altitude: 20 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Nice lunch: 4 x apple sauce w/ cinnamon...

    I think it’s been a while since you last said hallo to my sticky old friends that follow me wherever I go. They might seem a bit on the worn side and a little rough around the edges, but make no mistake: they enjoy this trip as much as I do, and they do appreciate the good ventilation and all the airy breezes. Hopefully, they’ll make it back home to Denmark with me…

    My trusty old friends...

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Free services at the Lake Charles visitors center...Cool country, innit?

    Even the cemeteries are spread out here!

    Welcome to Jennings, Louisiana.

    This heart-shaped box was given to me by a girl in Welsh...

    Louisiana farmland...

    Bayou territory. Louisiana, USA.

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    Day 1.129 – Texas -> Louisiana

    Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

    Crystal Beach (TX) -> Rest Area – milestone 2, Hwy 10, (LA)
    Distance (km) : 133
    Time on bike : 6h 40m
    Brutto time: 06.50 – 19.00
    Avg : 19.9
    Max.speed: 41.9
    Total (km) : 47.301
    Altitude: 5 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Wild camping near Crystal Beach, Texas...

    Heard about the WT Hall of Fame? :-)

    Wild camping near Crystal Beach, Texas...

    Digging for Texan oil...

    Looking flat to me...

    Just don't...

    Ben J. Rogers Regional Visitors Center - with the friendliest staff!

    Nicolai at the visitor center in Beaumont...

    Nicolai Nicolai at the visitor center in Beaumont...

    (Thanks to LaRue at the Beaumont Visitors Center for taking/sending the above 2 photos!)

    Beaumont city Hall, Texas.

    Swamp cycling in southeastern Texas...

    Dinner hunt!

    Goodbye Texas, Hallo Louisiana.

    Wild camp at rest area in southwestern Louisiana.

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    Day 1.128 – The Aftermath of a Hurricane…

    Monday, May 11th, 2009

    Surfside Beach -> Crystal Beach
    Distance (km) : 104
    Time on bike : 5h 28m
    Brutto time: 06.50 – 16.50
    Avg : 18.9
    Max.speed: 28.0 (huh, slow!)
    Total (km) : 47.168
    Altitude: 1 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    (Minus text so far…)

    Waking up to this sight makes me (and my bike) happy...

    Wild camping in Mosquito Hell just west of Surfside Beach, Texas.

    Sunrise over Surfside Beach, Texas.

    Jesus - King of Kings.

    Sunrise over Surfside Beach, Texas.

    Surfside Beach at the Gulf of Mexico, Texas.

    Beach house on stilts. Galveston Island. Texas, US.

    Free ferry from Galveston Island to Port Bolivar on the Bolivar Peninsula, Texas.

    US of A


    Hurricane Ike
    was a tough bastard…

    Hurricane Ike (2008) left a sad, sad mess around here...

    The clean-up af Hurricane Ike is still going on more than 8 months after the destruction...

    Ghosts still hanging around?

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Taking today's notes on Bolivar Peninsula, Texas.

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    Day 1.127 – Point Comfort -> Near Surfside Beach

    Sunday, May 10th, 2009

    Point Comfort -> 6 km W of Surfside Beach
    Distance (km) : 150
    Time on bike : 8h 20m (!)
    Brutto time: 08.30 – 20.30
    Avg : 18.0
    Max.speed: 33.5
    Total (km) : 47.064
    Altitude: 5 m
    Difficulty: 4 of 5

    (Text missing)

    Wild camp next to the chemical plant in Point Comfort, Texas.

    Brekkie in nature.

    Trimmed house in Blessing, Texas.

    Coke stop in Blessing, Texas.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Bay City, Texas...

    Good terrain for thinking.

    Bayou crossing in Texas...

    Chemical plant, Freetown - Texas.

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    Texas, USA

    Saturday, May 9th, 2009

    Just a quick midnight note here from Rockport, north of Corpus Christi, Texas, USA.

    Exit Mexico, enter USA:
    I crossed the border at Matamoros/Brownsville yesterday (after 1.5 hours of interrogation, bagage search, finger prints, photos, interviewing and the rocks) and was blessed with a sweet tailwind that brought me a whopping 170 km north, to the village Riviera (the Texas, not the French version) where I guerilla camped behind a gas station after sunset. A beautiful, fist-in-the-air kind of start of my US road trip. It’s damn hot, I drink way too much Diet Coke, but otherwise, life’s treating me fine.

    When Texan Hospitality Kicks In:
    This afternoon, after some 120 km of cycling) I was picked up on the highway by a lovely lady Kathy who invited me to come and stay with her and her husband David (72) in their house in Rockport up the road. “No” wasn’t exactly in my mouth. And here I am. Installed in “my own” room, am as clean as ever, recharged (but really tired now way past my bedtime) after a great evening with Kathy and David, at a Chinese super deluxe buffet, and at home with probably the best that Texan hospitality can offer. Feel very overwhelmed and happy having met these people. Think those mental shields and shells that I talked about the other day have disappeared already :-)

    The Route:
    A rough route through the US is to go through the southern States (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida (maybe Georgia)) staying fairly close to the Gulf of Mexico on the way, including, needless to say, New Orleans.

    Expect sort of long delays from Camp WT. Haven’t seen many internet cafes. Seems like most people have their own PC’s which hardly surprises, does it.

    Stay tuned – I’ll be back whenever I can with more updates from this, The Land of the Free, that I’m really excited about and eager to get to now (bits of)…

    Nicolai (who held a gun + shotgun + rifle in his hand tonight, a first of…This is Texas after all!)

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    Day 1.126 – Rockport -> Point Comfort

    Saturday, May 9th, 2009

    Rockport -> Point Comfort
    Distance (km) : 82
    Time on bike : 4h 05m
    Brutto time: 12.00 – 19.30
    Avg : 20.0
    Max.speed: 31.4
    Total (km) : 46.914
    Altitude: 3 m
    Difficulty: 2 of 5

    (Text might come)

    Brekkie with David in Rockport, Texas.

    Big truck seems to be the part of the deal around here.

    David in the truck...

    Goodbye to my immaculate host in Rockport, Texas.

    Armadillo, flatter than normal.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Having a break in Tivoli, Texas.

    Couldn't control myself in the supermarket. 4 bags of goodies. Hard to fit on the bike.

    House of God.

    Rural Texas...

    Mail box, US style.

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    Day 1.125 – Riviera -> Rockport

    Friday, May 8th, 2009

    Riviera -> Rockport
    Distance (km) : 118
    Time on bike : 5h 45m
    Brutto time: 08.50 – 18.15
    Avg : 20.5
    Max.speed: 53.8
    Total (km) : 46.832
    Altitude: 20 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    (Text might come)

    Early morning (no coffee!) on US day #2...

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Chemical plant, Texas.

    Corpus Christi esplanade.

    Having a a/c & coffee break at The Golden Arch...

    House with soul. Corpus Christi.

    Leaving Corpus Christi...

    Smooth tarmac going north of Corpus Christi...

    Bike path north of Corpus Christi, Texas.

    Enjoying the comfort of a real bed, with Kathy and David in Rockport, Texas.

    Kathy at the Chinese buffet...

    Evening conversations with David...

    This ain't toy, fellas...

    Better safe than sorry...

    The Cowboy version of me.

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    WT’s Alive and Kicking

    Thursday, May 7th, 2009

    Just a quick note from Matamoros at the US/Mexican border to say that there are new photos in the diary from Day 1.114 – 1.120 plus new diary entries from Day 1.121 and 1.122.

    Please enjoy!

    Nicolai

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    Day 1.124 – USA!

    Thursday, May 7th, 2009

    Matamoros (MX) -> Riviera (USA)
    Distance (km) : 170
    Time on bike : 6h 01m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 20.00
    Avg : 28.2 km/h (WT All-time High!)
    Max.speed: 47.7
    Total (km) : 46.713
    Altitude: 30 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Mexico to the right, Rio Grande (which isn''t that big at all), and the US to the left...

    The long-awaited US arrival!

    US Billboard

    Highway 77, southern Texas, US.

    This is a jolly good sight when you’re crossing the hot, isolated Texan prairie:

    Water!

    Saved by a little water tap at the Armstrong Post Office, Texas.

    Texas Tropical Trail...

    Lonesome Texan rider...

    It was a long and fast first day in the US. Tailwind was unforgettable.

    Sunset over the Texas prairie...

    Setting up camp for the night. Riviera, Texas - US.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    (Text missing)

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    Day 1.123 – Last day in Latin America…

    Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Museu de Arte Contemporaneo de Tamaulipas, Mexico.

    Museu de Arte Contemporaneo de Tamaulipas, Mexico.

    Bigger boobs, smaller nose? Come to Matamoros, Mexico.

    Street scene, Matamoros, Mexico.

    (Text might come)

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    Day 1.122 – The Shield

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

    San Fernando -> Matamoros
    Distance (km) : 140
    Time on bike : 6h 26m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 18.00
    Avg : 21.6 km/h
    Max.speed: 38.9
    Total (km) : 46.543
    Altitude: 8 m
    Difficulty: 4 of 5

    I have a strong sidewind in the early hours today over a flat landscape in the company of a crop, I can not identify. But it is golden and fine and ready for harvest. The sidewind hits me from an easterly direction – at 2-4PM, my nose is aimed at 12PM – and both my panniers and my psyche is hit hard. Around noon, I have a long and straight stretch of asphalt that lasts for 32 km.
    Together with the sidewind, which requires a constant pressure in the pedals, it’s mentally hard to see the asphalt stretching in front of you without the slightest curve, without the slightest diversion.
    The first curve is fortunately to the northwest, the right direction. It is not great, but sometimes small curves have the biggest effect, and soon I go from 20 fighting km/h to 32 flying.

    There are almost always small fly-like insects on my arms and legs when I’m on the road. Most of them die once they come into physical contact with the thick and highly sticky (like fly paper) SPFr 60.

    A Protective Shield:
    Everyone (everone!) stare and gaze at me wherever I am and I am going crazy. There is honking after me non-stop, and if we added some strings and a couple of trombones one would be thinking that the Berliner Philharmonishes Orchester were performing. I ignore almost all the attention, give a poor “hola” here and there, and just keep concentrating in my little artificial bubble of music and focused momentum. I pack myself mentally into several layers of varnish, which together form a shell, that I seek protection from. As a bullet kissing the barrel of a gun goodbye, I am fleeing the here and now in the fastest fugitive gear, in a blind quest for progress.

    But this is not what long-distance cycling is all about. Long-distance cycling is about getting rid of all these protective layers and filters on your mind and your eyes that prevent you (me!) from seeing how the world is really put together, about getting a feel of how the world’s social and cultural dynamics and structures is manifested and works.

    I know that this self-created shell is relatively easy to get rid of again, that it is not here to stay, and that it (the mental shell) apparently (and surprisingly) has been necessary for me to be able to focus 100% on the purely expedition-related part of WT. Will see if I can get rid of the shell when I hit the US ‘cos this being non-social makes me feel a little sad when it is not the image I am used to mirror myself in.

    The figure started as a 5-digit, then it got 4-digit a few weeks ago, then 3 digits, but now I have only a 2-digit number of kilometers to the U.S., and it excites me heaps.

    I finally reach Matamoros. The city has 430,000 inhabitants, and is located right next to the Rio Grande that separates Mexico and Texas, USA. Yeah, baby, USA!

    As I sit here early evening on the Plaza Allende in Matamoros’ center, waiting for my gorditas at an outdoor food vendor, it is hard to grasp how much momentum Zülle has seen here in Mexico. 1.900 km in just 16 cycling days. Just a month ago I imagined that I’d stay in Mexico for some 3 months, and here I am, just 500 meters from Texas, only 3 weeks after I arrived in Mexico.

    The feeling of accomplishment is allover me in layers the thickness of which isn’t matched by the thickness of the SPF 60 sunscreen on my shoulders nor by the protective shell in my mind…

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Day 1.121 – Me, petrified : toad, wet

    Monday, May 4th, 2009

    Soto la Marina -> San Fernando
    Distance (km) : 134
    Time on bike : 6h 20m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 18.00
    Avg : 21.3 km/h
    Max.speed: 50.5
    Total (km) : 46.403
    Altitude: 50 m
    Difficulty: 3½ of 5

    I’m in escape mode as soon as I hit the streets of Soto La Marina. Before breakfast no one should talk to me. I find the nearest Oxxo kiosk with cold milk and a hot cappuchino and find a spot in the shade to better enjoy the morning.

    It is a long and hot standard day in the saddle. I have 270 km to Matamoros at the US border, and although I try to convince myself that it is okay to take the time it takes to get there, then the tiger in me is obsessed with the idea of getting there by tomorrow evening. I really try to keep the tiger at rest, ‘cos with a whole day of head wind, e.g, it would be an (unnecessary?) struggle to get there in just two days, with 135 km both days.

    Artist of the Day: Port O’Brien

    It is as if the intense heat around me and the indomitable concentration inside me petrifies the social fabric in me and makes it almost impossible to engage in all the random roadside conversations, that come my way each day. It is not because I do not want to socialize, it is more because the physical excercise in the heat makes my head feel like the explosion is near and you’re just not very receptive of chitchat in that state. For the people I meet, it is hard to understand this situation, and I don’t expect them to understand – I just want them to leave me alone.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    I see many (and statistically more) thick Mexicans (all ages) here in northern Mexico than down south. Wonder if it’s the American influence, that is not only visible in the huge number of large 4-wheel-drives (GMC, Dodge, Ford, Chevrolet, Jeep etc) that are everywhere – and is there perhaps a connection between the big tommies and the big cars?

    Nothing new under the evening sun: I find a surprisingly cheap casa de huéspedes (Eulógio) for only 120 pesos (52 USD), the cheapest bed in Mexico, and it’s a cozy family-run place with a smiling, loving mama. Private bath, cable TV.

    The Toad:
    In the shower a little frightened toad jumps around on the floor. Mean as a boy, I choose to test its amphibian characteristics and pour heaps of water on it to see how well it handles the situation. The toad, only 1½ cm long and almost transparent, is fighting a long and honest struggle to get away from the water, but when it flips around lying on the back, it’s as if the air goes out of it. It lies completely still on his back and for a shameful moment I think it is dead (which would be interesting for my little amfibium experiment, but sad for my ego). It soon recuperates and I let it live in peace with its double life as a water and land creature.

    The evenings are significantly longer here 25 degrees north of the Equator than I have been used to further south in the Tropics. Even at 8PM it is still bright. At 8.45 all cats are gray.

    (Come back for photos some other day)

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    Day 1.120 – The Mastodont

    Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

    Aldama -> Soto la Marina
    Distance (km) : 114
    Time on bike : 4h 35m
    Brutto time: 09.20 – 15.30
    Avg : 24.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 52.1
    Total (km) : 46.269
    Altitude: 30 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Wheel-chair man with a microphone. Aldama, Mexico.

    It is, thanks to a nearly flat terrain and a glorious tailwind, one of the fastest WT-days all time. After 110 km the bike computer says 25.0 km/h in average. There are some hills with views over the checkerboard flat and arid landscape. It is semi-boring cycling, but the afternoon temperatures are not bored! Up to 47 degrees C the thermometer tells me. Shoulders are covered well in SPF 60. My skull is glowing. Wind’s howling.

    Brilliant asphalt in northeastern Mexico, Hwy 101

    The Mastodont:
    In the midst of (almost) nothing, I stop at a small eatery. The female assistant, a mammoth of a person asks about me and the bike and she is obviously interested in more than just my bike. I order 200 grams of homemade tortillas, that she heats up for me and when she wants to close the plastic bag with the tortillas, she fumbles nervously several times. She admits with a shy smile, that she’s quite nervous and I tell her not to be. From out oif the blue, she mentions that she also has Movistar telecards for my mobile, so that I can call, and I think that she ought to know that she is way, way too big for me, but tell her that I’m not travelling with a mobile phone.

    Tropico de Cancer

    8 months ago I crossed the Tropico de Capricornio (Tropic of Capricorn) in northwestern Argentina – the parallel line 23.5 degrees south of the Equator that marks the beginning of the tropical zone. Today it is time to officially leave the tropics again after approx. 12,500 km. Just south of Los Lavaderos I cross the Tropico de Cancer , which (surprise) marks the beginning/end of the tropical zone 23.5 degrees north of the Equator. It smells a little more of Denmark now, but make no mistake: it is still stinking hot!

    Aldama early morning...

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    I have a small 190 ml Cerveza Indio-beer (from Monterrey, Mexico) during a trance break in Los Lavaderos – as a mini-celebration of being out of the tropics.

    Having a refreshing lunch beer...

    The high cadence continues all day until I reach the village Soto La Marina and check in at the first hotel I see, Hotel La Quinta , which is really out of my economical reach, but I choose a rare pampering, because I still have a good part of the afternoon and the whole evening left and therefore I feel I will actually be able to enjoy the luxuries (cable TV, aircon, hot shower and without (others!) pubic hair in the bed. Fuck the 22 USD this time.

    A splurge in Soto La Marina, NE Mexico.

    I have only 275 km to the US border now. Am first and foremost looking forward being able to communicate freely again, a thing that will probably help giving me back some of the desire to socialize and chitchat with the locals. I don’t have much of that at the moment.

    Always a Corona sign in sight...

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    The Swine Flu – An Anthropological Take

    Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

    LET’S FACE IT: It’s not about the flu. No, it’s not about the flu. It’s about fear. It’s about the fear of losing control in this otherwise over-controlled world that we inhabit. How else would you rationally explain why people from all over – though it seems to be mostly a Western phenomenon – get so extremely worked up on a mass scale not compatible with the fact that a mere 16 people have died (as of today, 02MAY2009) from the newly detected H1N1 virus?

    Fear, I tell you, is a very powerful (if very irrational) force that moves people, makes us react, and – as is clearly the case this time – sometimes makes us lose the grip on (rational) life. Not unlike love. But when love takes control, things seem to go hmm and ahh, whereas when fear takes control (in and around us) things get messy, things get ugly, and the mass hysteria that we are witnessing on a global level these days – in the media as well as in the streets – is not pretty and we don’t need it.

    It’s ugly when people look at you like a criminal when you sneeze (because of the aircon, i.e.) in a Mexican convenience store, it’s ugly when the random street vendor you ask for direction takes one step away from you, to cut it short, it’s ugly when humans are not acting human and treating each other as such. And it makes me sad.

    As an anthropologist I see certain strata, certain aspects of human life, and I question and try to understand why people behave and react the way they do. I try to find the rationale when there seems to be none, try to make sense of the senseless, and – to be honest – this pandemic angst is quite senseless when you look at the facts and the what-is instead of the what-if without letting fear rob all human logic.

    As a private person, I’m disappointed with the way we (including the media) have dealt with this flu situation so far. The precautions made globally seem downright absurd.
    I’m disappointed with the ever so greedy sensationalism of the media, but – after all – it’s their bread-and-butter. But do keep in mind, that the media is the biggest hand that feeds the flu hysteria. Not H1N1 itself.

    What disappoints me the most is the complete lack of mental filters, the lack of personal assessment of the situation, of the apparently unquestioned trust we show whenever “experts” have things to say about this and that, which all seems to be the name-of-the-game for most of us in our contact with the almighty wisdom and messages of the media. Most people simply seem to just gulp it all down, uncritically and undigested, and it saddens me.

    There has always been virus around, there always will be. As unsensitive as it may sound, virus (and the deaths caused directly or indirectly by them) are very much a part of life, and this proliferating global panicking, that seems so out-of-hand, shows us that we are not very well adjusted to this fact.

    The difference is that we are now able to detect and track down the origin, the spread, and likely future of the virus. Nothing makes this particular H1N1 virus more lethal than others, but because science and technology now allows us to follow the life of the virus closely – and with the media all too eager to tell us about the possible (and often) horrific outcome – we start freaking out, we start visualizing the worst case scenarios, we start seeing ghosts (when there are no ghosts), and Armageddon days are here. This is out of all proportions.

    And come on, this virus (plus the next ones to come – and, yes, there will be more) only does what virus does. They spread. And they spread some more. And that’s no good, but what is really bad is that the fear of getting infected spreads way faster than the virus itself, that people stop trusting people, and that our minds get contaminated with angst, disbelief, and worry. It’s such a waste of our time and good energy.

    I hope that this Swine Flu-episode will very soon become history, and that we will look back on the whole thing with relief and a was-that-it? feeling. That we learn from this, that history won’t repeat itself, or rather, that we won’t repeat history.

    Stop fearing. Stop panicking. Turn off your TV. Start thinking.

    Nicolai

    (from Mexico, the assumed epicenter of the Swine Flu) :-)

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    Day 1.119 – A Devil, Free Cokes, and Intestines

    Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

    Tampico -> Aldama
    Distance (km) : 118
    Time on bike : 5h 01m
    Brutto time: 09.30 – 16.00
    Avg : 23.5 km/h
    Max.speed: 70.9
    Total (km) : 46.155
    Altitude: 50 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Hmm, another flat day at the office...

    iPod is fully loaded, I’m the same when I leave Tampico this morning. Traffic is heavy the first 20 km (Tampico, together with Ciudad Madero and Altamira, has more than 1 million inhabitants), but the road is good and I have a nice tailwind from the start, so mood is good (and how come that doesn’t rhyme?).

    I start the day by giving myself a thorough peptalk. Speak out loud to myself to get just a little extra energy down in them legs. I have (again) a long asphalt serpent ahead of me, 500 km, to Matamoros and the U.S. border at Brownsville. I expect flat, relatively fast, super-hot and not very exciting cycling. Therefore the peptalk.

    The Junction:
    While I am waiting for green lights (for such am I) at a traffic light a car filled with chicas Mexicanas passes me, girls smiling and whistling and shouting papi! (Little Daddy! (which I liked)) after me. I am just looking for way out of Tampico and ask a man dressed as the devil, that (hopefully) earn his living swallowing fire in front of motorists who wait for the green lights. Poverty, but fortunately also creativity, has many faces.

    Cowboy hats on sale in Aldama, Mexico.

    Shortly after I ask a taxi driver who waits for the green lights, about the way out of town. He gives his advice and we part. A few minutes later the man has stopped his car with the window down and tells me through the traffic noise that I have to keep going straight for 8 traffic lights, then turn left. 8 traffic lights! This cute little man has been counting traffic lights in the Tampico suburbs just to be able to give me the right advice. They are so friendly, los norteños, here in north-eastern Mexico. 8 traffic lights down the road it is, I turn left, and am soon in the middle of the Mexican country side.

    Tune of the Day: My Party – Kings of Leon

    Out in front a Oxxo convenience store, I sit in the shade and eat raw wheat tortillas and tomatoes. The assistant comes out and asks me if I want my tortillas heated in the microwave oven inside. Nice people, those Mexicans, but no thanks, I prefer my tortillas au natural.

    Weird looking church in Aldama, northeastern Mexico.

    The Coke Break:
    I have just parked the bike next to a curb at a small kiosk to get a cold coke. Am exhausted in my head because of the midday heat and need a rest. A man gets out of his car close by and I sense that he’s up for a chat. Oh no, I think, and the man comes over and asks all the usual questions. I take a coke from the refrigerator, and yes, I have biked for the last 3 years and Mexico is my country number 37, and he says he’ll pay for the coke, and I say thank you, and the man has heard about me on television and I think “it wasn’t me” but just say “okay” because I do not want to talk, but the cold coke makes me glad, and he now tells the whole family that I’ve cycled around the world for 3 years and “uhh”and “ahh”, and then they get in their car again and I thank them and I take a business card from my wallet and give them as a “thank you” and the car leaves, just as I will soon be leaving.

    I’m still thirsty and the lady in the shop lets me fill my bottles with her “private” water from a large bottle, although she also sells water and I say thanks, and am still thirsty so I take a new coke from the refrigerator and this time it is the kiosk mama who is my happy saviour and I say thank you again for that is all I have to give her, and I sit back on the little plastic stool with my new coke and I think that I just wanna be sitting here in the shade drinking free cokes all day…

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    I hit 100 km today, after 4 hours and 90 seconds, 24.8 km/h on average. Is there a lot of caffeine in Coca-Cola Light and Coca-Cola Zero?

    Number of the Day: 21. The total number of hotel soaps, I have gathered over the last months, in my heavy toilet bag.

    Aldama main square.

    I reach the village Aldama early afternoon and find Hotel Aldama (180 pesos). Walk around town and is being stared at like an animal from zoo in the quiet siesta streets. When I think that I’ve been stared at enough for today, I find a small eatery where the kitchen mama has a soup-like thing simmering in the pot. She affirms that it’s carne de res, beef, so yes please, ma’am. It soon appears to be a big mistake. In front of me is a bowl with guts and intestines (in a tomato sauce, which had hidden the “meat” just minutes before), served with tortillas and rice and a pile of raw onion!

    The intestines soup...

    Not exactly what my hungry stomach needs. Like a cat licking all the gravy from the cat food in the bowl, I go for all the sauce and leave the scary looking stuff aside. The intestines and the cow-stomach stare incomprehensible at me from the bowl. Feeling neglected, I suppose. The Corona Beer wash it all down. Bad choice this evening, Zülle. Bad choice.

    Eatery, closed.

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    Top 10 Alternative Rock Albums

    Friday, May 1st, 2009

    Because it’s not all about the flu – time to kick some ass.

    01. Band of Horses – Everything All The Time
    02. Muse – Black Holes and Revelations
    03. Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
    04. The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
    05. Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West
    06. Interpol – Our Love To Admire
    07. Jane’s Addiction – Strays
    08. The Killers – Sam’s Town
    09. The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers
    10. Cold War Kids – Robbers & Cowards

    - As of May 2009 -

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    Day 1.118 – Tampico

    Friday, May 1st, 2009

    Tampico facade...

    Tampico cast iron facade...

    I spend most of today writing. On my laptop in my room and later at an internet café with WT updates and grass trimming and e-mail writing in my inbox world, etc.

    Zócalo, Tampico - Mexico.

    Zócalo, Tampico - Mexico.

    Tampico shoeshine

    Tampico backstreet.

    I go for a long walk around Tampico, which – like the rest of Mexico, that I’ve seen this time – is completely free of foreign tourists. Which is fine with me, but which has the stardard price of being stared at (and whistled, greeted and wuhu’ed at) completely without shyness from all and sundry. Get some good b/w shots in Tampico’s backstreets before the glowing sun goes down in the west and shut the day off…

    Live coverage of the flu situation in Tampico, Mexico

    Tampico backstreet...

    Tiny shop in Tampico, Mexico.

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