Across Continents

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Spokes on a wheel

December 4th, 2011

I’d not meant to startle her. Just asked if her surname was Wilson. It was. How did I know, she’d asked, hastily looking to see if it was on a luggage tag. It wasn’t. Mine was an informed guess. Chance meeting with Ann in the locker room of the hostel in Santa Monica, striking up a conversation before joining her for breakfast. First of the day.

Ann was a fellow long-haul cyclist, had quite a few years on the road under her belt. But it was her tales of Bulgaria that’d aroused my curiosity. Had her bicycle stolen in Sofia. A story I’d heard before, I was sure. Recounted to me by Myles, a fellow Englishman. We’d ridden together from the city towards Turkey.

The previous evening I’d bumped into Aerind – pronounced Avon – with whom I’d camped at Kirk Creek. He’d arrived at the hostel a little ahead of me, his bob-trailer the source of much cursing as I’d struggled to stow my trusty steed in the small cycle store room.

Ann was heading off by bus for a few days, and I’d another breakfast to go to. Off to nearby Santa Monica pier to meet up once more with Esther, my host in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, eighteen months or so earlier. Now living in LA.



Heart attack on a plate

October 16th, 2011

It was un-mistakenly what Esther, with whom I’d stayed back in the Central Asian city of Bishkek, would have described as a heart attack on a plate. Bacon and fried egg sandwich. With fries. I’d loved her description of North American road house fare as much, I thought, as she’d enjoyed some of my pet phrases and little quips.

Everything in moderation of course, and after Hungry Hill, lentils and lettuce wouldn’t have worked. There’d been a swift, flowing descent into Houston, a small cafe next to a busy gas station. A sign on the door said "Happy Birthday Elaine!". It begged me to enter. Staff or regular customer. Which would it be?

My server was Aubray. She’d worked there since the local sawmill had closed. Elaine was in the kitchen, soon to finish her shift and head off to celebrate her twenty-first.



Ominous signs..

January 15th, 2011

Bit of a pattern emerging. Bishkek. Central Asian city. Bloody riots a few months before I rode into town. Then there was Urumqi in western China. Civil unrest not so long ago. Now Queensland. Huge swathes devastated by flooding. Trouble, it appears, seems to travel ahead of me. Which is good news for me. But not necessarily so great if you’re in New Zealand or North America this year. I’m coming… You have been warned.

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