Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Daylight robbery

January 3rd, 2012


On the road between Sanderson and Langtry, Texas



Angie’s cafe

December 29th, 2011

Angie’s cafe. Early morning in Fort Hancock, forty or so miles east of El Paso, Texas. Faded cutting on the wall suggested it had gotten a brief mention in National Geographic a couple of decades earlier. And it was a decent breakfast. Strong coffee. Initially the only customer, I found myself reflecting on the previous day. Doodling in my small pocket book.

Could I lend him two bucks? I’d smiled. Alas, I said, I had just the same problem. Never seemed to have any money on me. An obvious lie. Tornillo, little more than a gas station and convenience store. I’d been approached by a man in his early fifties, of Mexican descent, whilst stowing the few provisions I’d bought in the shop. Friendly enough on the face of it, but he was getting a little too close. And I disliked his mirror sunglasses.

A curious encounter. He reminded me a little of a chap I’d met back in Central Asia who’d made a living – of sorts – pilfering from passing travellers. Obliged to curtail his operations for a while. It was the offer to come and take a nap at his supposedly nearby home that had struck a chord of similarity. I’d politely declined, explaining I’d already arranged to stay with someone else. Fumbling in the panniers as I spoke, making quite sure he saw the canister of bear spray. Adding it was something I still carried. Just in case I ran into the odd miscreant. Grinning as I said it. Said he knew Tiquando. Doubted he could even spell it.

I’d left El Paso earlier that day. Pleasant northern suburbs soon replaced by industrial sprawl and tatty shops and cafes catering for the steady influx of Mexican day-trippers. The border crossing point resembling a maximum security prison. Tucked amongst the concrete fly-overs Border Patrol vehicles. Overhead the odd helicopter. I’d pressed on, eager to leave.

I’d eventually found a small cafe for lunch with a vacant window seat. Clientele all looked Mexican to me, a presumption reinforced by the Spanish news channel on the large TV screen. The Andre or Diego burger didn’t sound appealing, so I chose the chicken sandwich. The forlorn presumption that white meat would be the healthier option. Served in a bun rather more generous than the filling. Fortunately it was mostly downhill to Fort Hancock.



Beach mischief

December 2nd, 2011

Ever closer to Los Angeles, bit of a warning about pilfering at campgrounds..



Mixed messages

May 26th, 2011


Seemed there had been a number of break-ins at the camp site. Communal fridge and the coin drawer for the tumble dryer rather than vans or tents. No particular pattern. No obvious suspects. I felt sorry for the permanent residents. For this was their home. Theft of this sort akin to burglary. Expressed my particular revulsion of such behaviour. Dishonesty a pet hate. Steal from me and you’ll find your membership of the human race revoked. Think I’ve always been particularly clear on this point.

I’d arrived the previous night. Town of Gympie. Found the site without difficulty. But left the next day a bit confused. There’d been a friendly greeting, decent pitch, reasonable charge, even loan of a towel. But, when I’d popped back to Reception a little later, a frosty encounter. Was there WiFi I’d asked? No. Bluntly. Actually there was. Netbook detects them. Next morning. Same person. Helpful. Maps for the day ahead. Mixed messages.



Darwin Awards

May 7th, 2011

Next morning. Dawn. Solitary kangaroo in the distance. No irksome council official. Just a man in a pick-up emptying the bins. There’d been a forced entry in the gents toilets. I must have looked shocked. Money boxes for the showers he quickly explained. Broken into. I smiled. Relieved. He suspected the group of young people staying at the site might be able to shed some light on the matter. Locals. Unemployed. One with previous form with the Police.


I said I wasn’t so sure. They’d been very friendly towards me. Testosterone kept in check by the young women in the group. Camping out to enjoy a little freedom. Released a little from the strictures of village life. Hardly rebellious, willing to clash with authority. Quite the opposite. It was they who’d sought to avoid confrontation. Warning me of the council official. Whatever their past antics, they seemed to have moved on. Matured. One couple proudly expecting a baby.

And of the break-in? Last year it’d been a French backpacker. Daft enough to boast of his exploits in the visitors book. In French admittedly. Arrested later in Cairns. But still a candidate for the Darwin Awards.


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