Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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The bus ride from Texas to Veracruz was long and uneventful. However, what little excitement it had was magnified by it being my first days in a new country speaking a different language. My first stop was in Monterey, a big industrial city in which I saw little more than a grungy marketplace (similar to the marketplace found in many large cities, Mexican or otherwise). A little uncomfortable with my surroundings, I opted for the safety and familiarity (though little comfort) of the bus off to Poza Rico -- another town in which I saw virtually nothing. Finally, the last leg brought me to Veracruz, where the fun started for real.

After my bus to Laredo, I realized that I hadn't verified my ATM card worked after replacing my debit card with an exclusive ATM. So, I hopped out to withdraw a few bucks, to no avail. While waiting for the sun to rise on the East coast, and for my bank to have live operators, I wandered around Laredo at night. One of the streets I found lined, literally, as far as the eye can see with busses waiting to cross the border.

And as for my ATM debachle, I'm still working on that. Couldn't get my PIN number over the phone (which is reasonable) so I had to order a new one, which is in the mail to my parents. In the meantime I'm just doing cash advances on my VISA card, despite the pain it causes my bank account.
"To the City of Laredo on the 50th anniversary of the American Legion and as a tribute to all veterans who have served in the armed forces of the United States of America to preserve our freedom on this the 15th day of March 1869 A.D." - Post 59, Post 669 The American Legion

While examining this eternal flame, a strange local walked up to me and tried desperately to start a conversation. Not being in the conversational mood, I tried desperately to shake him off. After a titanic struggle, I won.
Pictured here is the Rio Grande, the great obstacle that prevents so many people from going north, but which is easly traversed going south. After this picture, assuming no major setbacks, it should be my last glimpse of the USA for many, many moons.
After struggling with the language barrier for a while, I finally broke through and got a room on the forth floor of a mid-range hotel near the Monterey bus station. $210 pesos ($1USD == $9peso) gone, I walked up the stairs to the second floor. Very clean, recently refurbished. Lookin' good. Level three looks the same. However, as I make it to the fourth floor, it looks like they ran out of renovation money. The stair is cracked cement with dingy corners, the lights hang out of the bare ceiling without finishing, and the entire place looks like a vacant floor -- and it would be, were it not for my room being there. So I walked amongst the crack-house looking place, half of the lights broken, the tiles chipped, the walls peeling, to my room. I slip the key in and turn... no effect. I turn the other way, same deal. Hm... I have a bit of experience with tricky locks as only someone with an inordinate amount of training can enter the house in San Jose in which I lived for two years. So, I pulled on ... [more]
The bus terminals here are amazing. To get a good mental image, take one of the local small airport terminals -- like Key West, Willow Run, Saginaw, or wherever. Got it? Now take five of those terminals and line them up side by side, and then put in ten times the people. There you have it. They're modern, but not ultra-modern. They're clean, but not spic'n'span. They have lots of shops and resturants, but not a huge or elegant selection. Basically, they're extremely functional and accessible to everyone: unlike airlines, which cater to the rich, or Greyhound stations that cater to the poor, bus terminals here are for Everyman.
Thinking of saving some pesos, I figured I'd nap on the floor for a few hours until daybreak. Things were going well, and I was in the process of mentally reassuring myself that no bugs were going to get to me -- after all, it's just a polished floor, right? -- when I noticed a gigantic bug with huge maws crawling over my shoulder. Sufficiently freaked out as to not require sleep, I decided I'd just splurge and get a nice bus to my next destination: Vera Cruz.

This picture was taken pre-godzilla.
Excuse the blur on this picture, but for some reason I decided to take it while we were crossing a rope bridge over a crocodile-infested waterfall. Or, that's what it felt like.

The Executive busses, which cost almost twice as much as the regular busses, are easily twice as nice. They have huge chairs that lean far back and, the best of all, that have these clever foot rests that actually work (unlike the foot rests of normal busses which I can never seem to do anything with). As you can see, there are only three people seated across, and far fewer rows. There is a "cafeteria" in the back (actually just a cooler area that has bottled water for passengers, though no Coke as advertised), very nice window shades that actually close all the way, and overall a very comfortable interior.

The foot rests that work are really the greatest part of all, enabling me to sleep for real rather than just dozing. They work like this: normally the seat in front of you has a metal brace tha... [more]

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