Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Trip

Alright, so the last trip was flawed, in that I disregarded the innate superiority of American Bus Products over the European Counterpart. So this time I'll try Greyhound. High fives all around.

In backpack: Three books, four shirts, notebook, pen, underwear.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Just an update for my one reader out there who is me; I'm doing my Cultural Anthropology research report on Greyhound buses, specifically on the fact that people on Greyhound buses are nicer than people not on Greyhound buses. I did my research on the bus from San Diego to LA and from LA to Oakland, which isn't quite an accurate survey, since people in LA are naturally unfriendly no matter how many times they've taken the bus. The report was due yesterday, so I'm pretty well on track.

Also, I'm going to China on the 15th.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Greyhound--Oakland to Arcata

Greyhound is much better than any European bus. First, they're not bitter and they believe in good old American customer service. The drivers are a lot more fun, and everyone is open to conversation and is in general much nicer. A good example of the difference between American and European hospitality is the European tendency to casually sell batteries by the battery and not by the pack. You'll see a four-pack of batteries for a Euro and think, "Hey, that's not that bad, especially in such a fine establishment as this!" and you'll pluck it off the rack and slap it down on the counter, thinking of all the CDs you can play with your brand new batteries, and then the lady will ask you how many batteries you want, and you'll say "what? I want the whole pack..." and she'll say "okay..." and then ring up the batteries and say "Four Euros." You'll realize what just went down and then look at the floor and glumly pull out four Euros and exchange them for the batteries, and at that point you don't even really want the batteries anymore, but you put them in your bag and go on with your life, sad and disillusioned.

So I was on the Greyhound, and it helps to come from Oakland, but I'm sure this goes for any major City/Ghetto, but everyone was very talkative, and the driver was upbeat. Here's a parable of his upbeatness: We had just taken the exit to San Rafael, and we were in rush hour traffic right at an intersection, when a sedan calmly slammed into the bus and wedged itself underneath. The bus stopped as we heard the crunch, and the bus driver got out of his seat and said "alright so here's what we're gonna do. I'm gonna need you all to write on these slips whatever it was you saw happen..." blablabla the moral is that without skipping a beat, he dealt with all the formalities, and the police, and all that, even though they might have fired him on a less sunny day.

We sat on the bus talking for an hour or so, and then had to get off so that the tow truck could pull the sedan out and we could continue on our way. The great thing was that nobody complained. Nobody even said "damn, i'm gonna be late." The most negative thing anybody said was "Good thing I don't have a court date." As the mexicans all watched on their bikes, we filed back onto the bus, knowing we'd get to Arcata at around midnight, and departed again, hoping the bus was still structurally sound. We started, and the cars that had been stuck on the road behind us were finally able to go by.

We got to San Rafael and the guy next to me got a call from his friend who would be able to give him a ride to his destination. "Fuck this bus," he said, and left. This, of course, was good, because everyone else had gotten on, meaning that I had two seats to myself on which to luxuriate. I didn't get much sleep, but I finished a book I'd been meaning to read, and I ate a taco and a burger. The burger was better. Next time I want a taco I'll go to a taco truck.

After a few hours of driving, we started to smell burning. Soon after, the bus began bouncing up and down violently, like turbulence except it hurt the spine. We felt a strong vibration and then someone told the bus driver, who stopped, looked under the bus, said "looks like the axle's loose. Hopefully it'll fall back in place." Sufficiently comforted, we sat back down. The burning and vibrating stopped, but for the rest of the ride we rattled up and down like kids on a dad's overactive lap, while the two guys behind me discussed the finer points of growing marijuana. Apparently if you water the plant with kool-aid, you can make it change colors.

I arrived in Arcata and was alone at the station for an hour with an old burnt out hippie who was smoking weed, and for that whole hour, tried to make conversation with me. ("Hey man do you smoke weed?" ; "No." ; "Why'd you quit? Did you burn out or something?") It's hard to communicate with these people.

The difference between Greyhound and European buses is that Greyhound gets you there two hours late because it got in an accident or something like that, whereas in Europe, you get there seven hours late for no plausible reason.

Moral: Eurolines=It's better to hitchhike --- Greyhound=Better than Eurolines

Saturday, January 10, 2009


-We don't need the cola.
-Yes we do.
-It's poison.
-Okay I'm pouring it out.
-On the count of three we start running.... One, two, three
-Don't worry--whoop
-Told you.
-Okay let's run again.

-I think it's only maybe seven kilometers left.
-I have something to say.
-This was one of my stupidest ideas.
-I didn't want to say anything. Running to Kaucis' house at three in the morning isn't very smart.
-Fuck it.
-Fuckin a right, fuck it.

-The moon keeps staring at us. Fuck you, moon!
-In Latvia we have myth, that if you show your ass to the moon, it will take you with it.
-I'm still here.
-Fuck it.

-We're probably the only people here for miles.
-Did you hear that whistling?
-Yeah, I think so. Stop for a second.
-There it is again, louder. Sounds like hunters or something.
-Hey what the fuck do you want!!
-They just keep whistling.
-Let's go over there.
-It's people.
-There's too much fog.
-Oh good, it's Kaucis and Janis and Berziņš.
-We made it.
-What time is it?
-Probably about five or six.
-Let's just go to the sauna. Fuck you all, we made it here without a car.
-Yeah, fuck you all.
-Fuck you all.
-Fuck you all.
-Fuck you all.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Ed-Dog

It's like a hot dog, but it's warm and it's got a bunch of other stuff on it too. And it can all be made in the microwave.

One of the many ways to know you are in Latvia


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Word of the Week

Chimney fire -- when your chimney catches on fire

Friday, December 26, 2008

To Build A Fire

Our first try was deep in the snow and we didn't have any paper except for my library card. The experience left me with frozen feet and no library card.

The second try was in Ansis' house. We had plenty of paper but we couldn't get it going. The trick is to wrap little pieces of wood up with pages out of the phonebook. This will leave you with a fire warm enough to thaw your feet and allow you to play poker.

The third try was more harrowing. We had a little bit more paper than the first try, but we were running out of matches, and the stakes were higher. Kristaps and Pēteris and Pika and I had been walking through the forest for an hour or so and we had no way of getting out in the near future, when Kristaps said "We stop here." When I asked why, he said "We will build fire..."

Kristaps' method involved lighting a coke bottle on fire. It didn't work and then me and Pēteris started up a little twig fire. After a few tries it all caught. I don't know why we had firewood but anyways we laid it on and then broke branches off trees and used those. We warmed our feet again (and Kristaps burned his coke bottle) and we split our separate ways.

Pēteris: If we go that way with Kristaps, there will be road, but that way is river and forest. We will go that way.

Five hours later I'm home and my butt has a big bump on it.