Day 86: Greyhounded

27.03.09: Spent the day travelling up through Georgia pressing northwards towards Virginia. As we travelled, my mind turned to three things; Architecture, Americans, and Greyhound buses. I HATE GREYHOUND BUSES. The entire company seems to be made up of the most inept, unhelpful, disrespectful, useless bunch of po-faced morons on the planet. The seven plagues of Egypt wouldn't be enough to wish on these cretins, these people-hating, slothful, discourteous rotters with about as much idea about customer service as a cockroach has about food hygiene. I just wanted to get that off my chest. Now it's no great secret that British people like to make out like Americans are stupid. I always bristle when I hear some pompous Brit going on about how stupid the Yanks are, especially in the face of the pond-life that populate the Jeremy Kyle Show, the omnipresent chav culture that seems…

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Day 85: Did You See Any Cubans?

26.03.09: As a wonderful final flourish, and as if to prove how much better the Mexican bus service is to the American one, my bus got to the border 45 minutes EARLY. Perfect. So I thanked the bus driver and took the short taxi ride over to the border. I was worried about getting stamped out of Mexico, as I didn't get stamped out last time, so I was praying they didn't spot the fact I had three entry stamps and only one exit, but I needed have worried. I had already paid the departure tax in Cancun - they were just happy to chuck a stamp in my passport and wish me well. I'm going to miss Mexico. So you pay 3 pesos (about 10p) to go through the metal turnstiles and walk over the bridge (might be the one out of No Country For…

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Day 84: Chilli Con Carnage

25.03.09: So the day was spent entirely at the mercy of the rather wonderful Mexican bus service. Leigh got off the bus somewhere in the middle of nowhere to climb a mountain, and so I was left with only the movies to keep me company. Eventually we rolled in to Mexico City; unlike silly places (like London), Mexico City doesn't cram all of its long distance buses into a shed in the middle the town - it's got a different station for each of the four cardinal points (pay attention, London), so getting in and out of the vast metropolis is fairly straight forward. A short taxi ride to the North Bus Station, and a wonderful selection of buses to choose from heading up to the US border (unlike the ‘socialised' bus service of the US, which gives you the option of Greyhound, Greyhound or (if…

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Day 78: Mission: Cuba

19.03.09: So much has been happening so fast it makes my head spin just thinking about it. Midge gave me a lift into Key West and Captain Johnny was waiting for me outside Harpoon Harry's. I said my goodbyes to Midge (hooray for Midge!) and threw my kit on board Captain Johnny's boat, a 41 foot Morgan OutIsland Sloop called (somewhat appropriately)..., oh hang on - I can't tell you, can I? Damn. We is fugitives now. Pirates! Bootleggers! Jolly Swagmen! We're going to the FORBIDDEN ISLAND and there's not a damn thing the US Treasury can do about it. Stick THAT in your pipe, US Treasury Department. Anyway, we had a lot of work to do. Boat parts, supplies, crew lists and check out. It was a bit of a nightmare getting it all sorted so quickly, but by 2pm we were pulling out of…

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Day 77: The Sun Also Rises

18.03.09: I woke up on a random ship in the port... The Appledore. I had absolutely no recollection of how I got there. Hat... check, shoes... check, laptop... check, camcorder... check, wallet... check, phone... check, passport...? [pats down pockets] Phew... passport, check. Maybe I've been travelling so long I can now do it on autopilot. Or maybe I only lose things when I'm sober. Maybe I should continue the rest of the journey in a drunken haze. Then again, might not go down too well with the authorities in the Middle East. Or Greyhound bus drivers. Stumbled from my berth, staggered out onto deck. Bright, bright sunshine and loads of young fresh-faced Spring Breakers queuing up ready to take a cruise out on the boat. I tipped my hat down over my eyes and headed for the internet café to see if the Treasury Department had…

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Day 76: The Conch Republic

17.03.09: Getting up nice and early, Midge gave me a list of people to talk to about getting a boat over to Cuba. First up, Captain Finbar of the Schooner Wolf, the flagship of the Conch (pronounced Conk) Republic. The Conch Republic was founded in 1982 as a response to the US government setting up a border post between the most northerly Key and mainland Florida. It was a grand plan of the Reagan administration to stop drugs, Cuban refugees and...But hang on - if you have to go through customs to get out, doesn't that mean that the Florida Keys are a separate country? That's what Captain Finbar and his friends thought, and so they ceded from the union and declared themselves an independent state - The Conch Republic. They then declared WAR on the US and set out on the Wolf to attack the…

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Day 75: Who’s Scruffy Lookin’?

16.03.09: A day on the Greyhound first to Miami and then down to the Florida Keys. What would incur the wrath of the bastard bus driver this time? Would somebody - heaven forbid! - put their bag on the seat next to them? Would somebody be chewing gum too loudly? Would somebody be wearing the wrong coloured hat? Oh no - this time I got a dressing down from yet another of this weird stockpile of autocratic, misanthropic, idiotic Nazis that they get to drive these damn machines. Why? Because I was TOO SCRUFFY LOOKIN' to get on the bus. This is the thirty year old bus that is so dirty you can't see out of the windows. A bus that STINKS of effluent because the toilet is never cleaned. And I was too scruffy????!! My jaw almost hit the ground. Where do they find these…

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Day 74: We Have Lift Off!

15.03.09: Headed over to the Space Centre first thing and queued up LIKE A BIG NERD for a ticket to view the shuttle launch. These special tickets are usually like golddust, but because the shuttle had been delayed so long (I know how it feels!)I got one! Wooyay!! Spent the day pottering about the Space Centre fearing that the shuttle would be cancelled again, but when the news came through at 2pm that it had been successfully fuelled I began to get rather excited. I may have done a little nerdy dance in the Hubble Space Telescope exhibit. By 5pm I was on a bus heading for the Space Centre Causeway. I plonked myself down on the grass behind the yellow rope (like that's going to protect us!) and set up my camcorder... finally, something was going right for a change! I got chatting with a…

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Day 73: Spaced

14.03.09: Rise and shine, Odysseus. Since you're stuck in Florida, you may as well indulge your nerdy love of all things NASA. I walked down to the service station and luckily grabbed one (of the three) taxi drivers that service Titusville and got them to drive me to Kennedy Space Centre. I had lunch with a real-life astronaut (cool!) and took the Close-Up tour of the Launch Platforms. The Shuttle was there and ready to pop off into outer space tomorrow night at 7:34pm. The driver told us if we came early the next day it might be possible to get tickets to watch the launch from the Space Centre Causeway - the closest area Joe Public can get to without incurring the wrath of the US Navy. It sounded like a plan. I was there, dude. That night I spent alone in the Motel. I…

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Day 72: The Greyhound Bus Nazis

13.03.09: I gave it until 2pm until it became abundantly clear that the Treasury was not going to get back with an answer this week and asked Robbie (very nicely!) if he would give me a lift to the bus station. That he did, and I made the bus for Titusville (just outside Cape Canaveral) with only seconds to spare. Now, so far, the Greyhound bus drivers I have experienced have been mean, condescending and stupid, but this driver was something else. After making everyone check their luggage in (even though most of the people's bags were small and the bus wasn't even nearly full) this uppity clippered-moustache bureaucratic freak continued to make everybody's life an utter misery by stopping the bus - on a FREEWAY JUNCTION EXIT(!) - to confiscate the mobile phone of a passenger who was doing no harm to anybody. BECAUSE IT…

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