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  • hardie karges 12:36 pm on December 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Democrat, , , President, , USA   

    Announcing a New Travel Service for Wannabe Trump Refugee Expatriates… 

    Image result for cubano de talBeat the rush! Don’t Delay! Don’t get caught looking the wrong way! If the thought of Donald Trump as our next President is as disgusting to you as it is to me, then start making plans to leave the country now, while the dollar is strong and the lines are short, because they likely won’t last long! Thousands of Americans reside in other countries even before the Trump card is played, and you can bet that number will increase if the Donald (el Donaldo, where you’ll likely be going) is elected.

    Have you ever been to Asia? It might be a good time to visit! What about Latin America? Pues si, como no!? And the hottest travel destination in the world IMHO is Eastern Europe. Imagine, Europe at half the price, and equally cultured and beautiful! Of course, traveling there and living there are two different things, and working there another degree of difficulty altogether. So first, define your objective: escaping the new revised USA of Donald A$$hole Trump, of course, got it. (More …)

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  • hardie karges 7:20 pm on November 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , USA   

    Travel Alert: Black Saturday for Passports, No More Added Pages 

    Trail of Tears, Smudges on  Pages

    Trail of Tears, Smudges on Pages

    If you are a veteran inveterate traveler, then listen up and listen up good. The US State Department has announced that it will no longer be adding those 24-page passport inserts that stiffen up our credentials like Viagra and provide many nights of enjoyment, reminiscing over remote borders and intransigent a$$holes with badges on their lapels and our passports in their grubby mitts. So now you’ve got to replace the whole thing when it starts getting full—yuk. At least there is the option of an XXL size with 52 pages instead of the usual 28, but still… you’ve got until the end of this year to add more pages until they discontinue the service, but even that’s not free, like it used to be… bummer…

     
  • hardie karges 11:09 pm on October 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Customs, Houston, , USA   

    You Can’t Fight Customs, c. 1989… 

    Hanging with Juan Lennon in Havana

    Hanging with Juan Lennon in Havana

    The Customs guys in Houston had a little table set up on the ramp to the airplane for the international flight. I’ve never seen anything like that, so ignore it. They flag me over. I’m Mr. Profile, by the way. They have a picture of what the typical bad guy looks like; it’s a picture of me. Hey, can I help it if I’ve got an eccentric flair for fashion? I’ve got carry-on luggage, so immediately I’m suspect. Under US law, if you’re carrying more than $10,000 in ‘monetary instruments’, then you gotta’ report it. No big deal; I know all that. I travel all the time; it’s a way of life. I deal with Customs officials all the time; it’s a way of business. I even do my own Customs brokering, so know the rap. They think I’m trying to be a smart-ass. They want to see all my money, so we do that, counting every penny.

    Back then, ATM’s weren’t so popular, so I had traveler’s checks, plenty of them, since I buy handicrafts. It all added up to about $9,300 or so, well under the limit, or so I thought. Let’s wrap this up and get on with our lives. But no, the guy with the badge is getting excited. He leaves and comes back a few minutes later, telling me to follow him on to the plane. Like a good citizen, I obey. We go into the cockpit, where he informs me he wants to ‘know what that bulge in my pants is’. I sh*t you not. I had to pull down my pants for some pervert with a badge while two pilots and a flight attendant looked on. I guess now I know why it’s called a ‘cockpit’.

     
  • hardie karges 12:16 pm on September 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Phoenix, , USA   

    Perfect Day, Infinite Gist, part 2: Bus, City, Desert, Vaginas… 

    Bus full...

    Bus full…

    (continued from previous)

    1500 Hours: If travel is an addiction, then buses are the junk that courses through your veins. By American standards this is one step above homelessness, the ragged and wretched and the too-afraid-to-fly queuing up for bumpy-road jaunts to familiar locations where unnamed relatives live in uncertain symmetry, silence only occasionally interrupted by the rat-a-tat of gunfire and the backfire of Mexican low-riders…

    Of course it gets boring in a bus station after a few hours, but this is what happens when you go ‘next available’. In any city outside the USA, there would likely be huge crowds, if not actual throngs, of people watching and waiting expectantly to see if their bus will be on time, and if not then why not. People would be shifting body weight from foot to foot over some imagined fulcrum that merely hides the tracks and traces of boredom. (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 9:36 pm on September 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What can I say? I liked Phoenix when I visited – but that was in 1976; and Scottsdale – didn’t see much. Sedona was beautiful.

    • hardie karges 10:00 pm on September 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      1976? It’s changed…

    • jodie scoggin 11:02 am on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      travel well,

      jodie scoggin

      • hardie karges 1:33 pm on October 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        I will, and you, too… where are you?

        • Jodie scoggin 5:37 am on November 1, 2015 Permalink

          I live off and on in Jackson…work in west Texas in the oilfield ocassionaly as a consultant for a geosciences company…but truth be told I have never worked much. Stayed in Mississippi State chemistry department as a researcher and overpaid grad student for many years….

          It was good to find your blog….as web wilder said ….eat big…grow strong…party hard… And wear glasses if ya need ’em

          Jodie

        • hardie karges 4:23 pm on November 1, 2015 Permalink

          Sounds good and interesting, got a nephew in Art Dept at MSU. Got Facebook? Who’s Web Wilder?

  • hardie karges 3:37 pm on November 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , McAllen, , Reynosa, , USA   

    Perry-Troopers in Laredo, Mexican Military Mafia & Mothers in Matamoros 

    Mexcian Politics

    Mexcian Politics

    So the border crossing at Piedras Negras, Mexico into Eagle Pass, TX, went without a hitch, no problema, nada nadita, this after repeated problems in Arizona and absolutely zero in California, so I’m advancing my thesis about the abuses of Arizona; but I’ll need a few more examples to confirm it. Of course I’d like to be able to say that I’ve been to every border post along the 2000 mile US-Mexico border, but that quickly becomes a problem of definition: cities or actual crossings, since many cities have multiple crossings, and some are hardly pedestrian friendly. That’s me: Mr. Pedestrian. Hi.

    Anyway, given the dozens of crossings along the border, and my limited time, I decide to not even bother with Laredo, since I’ve been there many times before. So the next major crossing down the road southward is at Roma. The American town looks interesting, a historic town overlooking the bluffs of the river. And there’s a bridge right there in town, connecting to an equally interesting-looking town on the other side. But it’s still early, since I left at daybreak. It’s cold, too. Hardly anything will be open at this time of day. I’ll be back, later in the day. I continue on down the border.

    Roma, Texas

    Roma, Texas

    There seems to be a bridge at Rio Grande city, but no real city there, so I pass on by. Then there’s a sign pointing the way to a ferry, near Sullivan City, so that sounds interesting. It is, a long winding road to a long winding border along a long winding river. The border itself is not much more than a stop sign and a few derelict buildings. The border post looks modern, but I don’t see the boat. I don’t see anything on the other side, either. That’s crucial. Crossings to nowhere don’t interest me. I go back.

    By now the highway down south is getting thick with police—state troopers, cheaper by the dozen, apparently. I guess this is part of Governor Rick Perry’s border crackdown. They don’t seem to be doing much, though, just parked by the side of the road, mostly, or parked double-wide and deep in chat, looking bad and breaking bread, doughnuts, that is…

    Border Flea Market at Hidalgo

    Border Flea Market at Hidalgo

    The suburbs are getting thick, too, the United States of Generica, life at the speed of an automobile, going in fourth gear down a crowded freeway, frontage roads crowded with signs like little China-towns all, Whataburger Jiffy-Lube Best Buy Wells Fargo Kmart Circle K and countless other refugees from downtown all competing for attention, multicolor flashing signs all shouting the same thing: More! More! Bigger! Bigger! There’s everything but the Starbucks; apparently Arabica has yet to reach the lower forty, still steeped slowly in ignorance, como agua para Nescafe…

    Finally I get to the greater McAllen area, knowing not much more but there’s a bridge there somewhere, a vague picture of Google Maps in my mind, so I switch on my internal GPS and proceed by cruise control. I find a bridge soon enough, but from nowhere to nowhere best as I can tell, so I continue on to a smaller town called Hidalgo—jackpot. This is not only THE border crossing to the large city of Reynosa, but also home to one of the largest flea markets in the world. Comparisons to Talat Rong Kleua along the border with Kampuchea spring to mind. Welcome to Thailand.

    Border-town Bars in Reynosa

    Border-town Bars in Reynosa

    Reynosa, twin city to Matamoros, is one of the places where the Mexican uncivil war is taking place, just like Ciudad Juarez farther north; that much is clear. The tone is subdued, and the cause is more than the chilly weather. There is a strong military presence around the central plaza, and I’m not sure I’d want to be around after sundown. The road to democracy is long and hard and frequently violent, and too easy to say, “it’s just the drugs.” Still it’s got more life than the average American city, by far, and it’s almost worth the extra military presence just to accomplish it—almost.

    The crossing back is slightly more stressful than the day before at Eagle Pass, but only slightly. The only time I got the glare, the ICE glare, was when the man asked me what I was doing in Afghanistan, like I could almost see him counting heartbeats. I smile a lot. We’re good. Brownsville is even farther down the road south, but I’ve already been there, and the sun is on the wane, so I high-tail it back to Roma, this time counting state troopers. It’ll total up to at least twenty along this stretch of asphalt.

    Flower District in Cd. Miguel Aleman

    Flower District in Cd. Miguel Aleman

    Ciudad Miguel Aleman is the city across the river from Roma, TX, though I didn’t know that until it was almost time to cross back. It always helps to know the name of the place where you are, though not absolutely necessary. It’s also nice to know your own name, or so the ICE man seems to think. I hand him my passport.

    “What’s your name?”

    I’ve got a live one. I just handed him my passport, so he knows my name. He wants to make sure that I know it. People with false ones frequently don’t. So I tell him. But that is not enough to satisfy. He’s got a stiffy, and he intends it poke it in my face. I tell him all about myself.

    “Who do you sell your books to, the highest bidder?”

    Now there’s a novel idea, but I don’t really believe he’s trying to be helpful. I believe he’s trying to be an a$$hole.

    “Empty your pockets.”

    Okay, here we go, the old once-over. So I empty my pockets (as if I were a smuggler I’d carry my illegal goods right there in my front pocket). He even brings another ICE man in to glare at me, just to see if I get nervous, I guess. But that’s that. I can go. No trip to the back room, nothing. Still I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead. It’s getting dark. It’s been a long day. I think I’ve seen enough of the border to last me a while.

     
  • hardie karges 12:45 am on November 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Del Rio, Eagle Pass, , , Piedras Negras, , USA   

    Texas Nexus: Borderlands Here, Too, Y’all 

    Mexico-US boundary post

    Mexico-US boundary post

    So here’s the deal: I’m becoming obsessed with this border between the US and Mexico, this line that defines so much while accomplishing so little, worshiped as a line in the sand, a bulwark of democracy, a first line of defense against those who would abuse the privileges of America without paying the full price of admission, those entering the amusement park without paying the cover charge, violators subject to a revenge equal to and exceeding the pulling of eyes for eyes and teeth for teeth.

    Here’s my thesis: that the Arizona border region—aka Brewer’s Gulch—is the most abusive of all the involved states, and likely for a reason: because of the current anti-immigrant climate in that state as best exemplified by SB 1070, and including various other neglects, slights and omissions committed upon people of Mexican ancestry by law enforcement agencies and the broader society of ‘real’ (white) Americans as a whole.

    Ironically these slights and omissions have been inflicted even upon myself while reentering the USA recently along the Mexican border, three times (out of five) in Arizona, and not once in California. There seems to be a pattern forming here. With such my mandate and mantra I set out upon the continuance of my journey of discovery in Texas, the USA’s longest border, and the only one with a river running through it. (More …)

     
    • Leigh 2:57 am on November 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      For three years running I had trips right down at the US-Mexico border. I even found a hole in the fence in Coronado National Memorial. In Big Bend NP the border was only a few feet across the Rio Grande. It feels like your every move is being watched – and it probably is.

      • hardie karges 3:15 am on November 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Probably more so than before, yes. I remember Big Bend 30+ years ago felt pretty loose, but I doubt that is the case now. Business there has suffered accordingly…

  • hardie karges 3:05 pm on July 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , USA, war   

    Cry for #Guatemala… whose failed government? 

    1983 selfie in Guatemala

    1983 selfie in Guatemala

    The irony of the child refugee situation is that much–if not most–of the gang activity they’re escaping was learned in the USA, or so goes the scuttlebutt.

    That was during the 80’s i suppose, when Central Americans were escaping civil war and right-wing death-squad violence down there.

    There wasn’t so much crime there then: the right-wing military governments kept a tighter grip than the current ‘democracies’.

    So they came up here and learned the gang techniques that they could use later when their fascist governments finally succumbed to more modern democracies that wouldn’t be able to stand up to them?

    That makes sense, I guess…

    Seems like democracy is the ‘failed government’ these days, in Central America, Thailand, and elsewhere; it takes education, sorely lacking in much of the world…

     

     
  • hardie karges 7:48 pm on May 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , USA   

    Announcing the Publication of “500 Hostels in the USA (& Canada & Mexico): Backpackers & Flashpackers” 

    BookCoverImageUSA

    Backpackers & Flashpackers

    Well, the files are prepared and the digital proofs look good.  I’m just waiting for an actual physical copy to make sure it doesn’t have a marshmallow center or something weird like that, then the book should be up on Amazon within a few days.  I’ve been known to skip the final step to speed up the process, but considering that the first physical proof two weeks ago had forty-four blank pages, it’s not just idle speculation or misplaced caution.  So I rejected it and spent $200 more to save you two bucks off the price of a book.  How’s that for service?  Maybe you’re scratching your head wondering what this hostel bizniz is all about, anyway.  Here’s the back cover:

    Have you been to Europe before, staying in hostels all over, and wondered why there were so few in the US, and so hard to find?  Well, you’ve come to the right place, and I’m happy to report that American hostels are alive and well, and on the verge of breaking big any day now.  Already the two coasts have quite a few and the interior is gradually filling up in places like Chicago and New Orleans.  The surprising thing is that the quality is actually quite good, up to modern ‘flashpacker’ standards, so it’s just a matter of time before any place worth its name will have a good hostel or two, or ten or a hundred.  (More …)

     
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