It wasn’t until our eyes adjusted to the lack of light beneath the thick canopy of jungle that we saw the rifles leaning against the trunk of a palm tree.
“Hola, buenas dias,” we said walking across the clearing, making sure to maintain eye contact with the three men sitting on upturned buckets and not at their armoury.
‘Buenas,” they replied giving us the scantest of looks. Continue reading →
It was the most beat up, tattered wreck of a book that I had ever seen, but the sight of it filled me with an enormous upwelling of pleasure. The owner was initially reluctant to part with it as she was immensely fond of the book. Rummaging through my rucksack and pulling out the best of what there was to barter I laid them out like cards on the table before her. She was a fussy reader but there were some strong names there so I felt as though the exchange could happen. Taking her time she read the sleeves and back covers before selecting a Conrad and a Hemingway. My two best, she was driving a hard bargain, but I had to have that book so acquiesced with barely a murmur. Continue reading →
“El viejo es muerto!” They cry in the streets of Miami and Havana, some with joy, some with sadness, but all must wonder what the future holds for the island of Cuba now that one of the most iconic and controversial figures of the 20th century is no more. Continue reading →
They all looked like children and had been chatting animatedly for over half an hour. Two then upped and offed to the bathroom leaving a teenage girl with wispy brown hair sitting in the corner. A hummingbird hovered above her head as it probed the plastic feeder hanging from the gutter for sugar syrup. Continue reading →
Over a year ago I wrote a post entitled ‘Awesome’ which celebrated the hospitality of the citizens of the Unites States of America. Having just spent another hugely rewarding 3-months in that country it is time to update my feelings about the folk who call the US home. Continue reading →
It was a beautiful November day in Topanga Canyon, California. Driving down the twisting canyon road to the Pacific Highway we passed a 25-year old silver BMW parked on the verge: the registration plate read BAN NUX: a slogan that had a more sharply nuanced edge this morning. Continue reading →
Today had a certain rebellious quality to it and bears sharing. On 6th November 2012 the state of Washington in the United States of America approved by popular vote legislation that legalises small amounts of marijuana for adults aged 21 and over, taxes them and designates the revenue for healthcare and substance abuse prevention and education. So, this morning it was with huge interest that I showed my ID to the amiable security guard sitting by the frosted glass door and stepped inside the Herban Legend store in downtown Seattle. Continue reading →
It’s not often I come out and take a hard line on a subject being someone who likes to get all sides of the argument and then think it all through from what I hope is an unprejudiced wholly objective viewpoint: the helicopter as opposed to the worm’s eye view. But on one matter my mind was made up ‘pretty darn quick’, that moment of revelation coming in Tennessee whilst listening to radio station WKDF on 103.3FM out of Nashville when some poor misplaced hillbilly sang “Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed”. Continue reading →
During my early years a framed picture hung on the wall at the top of the stairs: a deep blue lake backed by numerous rocky peaks swathed at their feet by a multitude of conifers. It was a place in the Canadian Rockies near Lake Louise that my mother had visited in the late 1950s when she lived and worked in Canada. Photograph albums from that time pictured her on horseback with Canadian cousins or smiling as she sat in sleek finned cars from that era. Continue reading →
Clarksdale Mississippi has an abandoned, ramshackle air of neglect in the air. It is a place where that much over-hyped notion ‘The American Dream’ has not materialised yet and is unlikely to any time soon. When we first drove through the downtown area nobody was walking on the streets, just the odd car pushed slowly through the intensely hot and sticky air that wrapped itself around everything. But people do seek Clarksdale out as it is famous for being a focus for the extraordinary music that spread out from the Mississippi Delta: music forged in a cauldron of fear, cruelty and despair. The Blues, possibly the most sublime and pure synthesis of African and American culture that there has ever been and ever will be. Continue reading →