Day 59: Nineteen Seventy-Nine

28.02.09: The Longest Day Part II. I only slept for a few hours before we hit the El Salvador border and then it was off the bus, with queuing and formality. Having said that, the bus was great - brand new, tons of leg-room, free food, drinks, flat screen TVs - and a good selection of films. I bought a bottle of whiskey from the Duty Free on the border and began the day as I meant to go on. I whirled in a drunken haze as the countries passed me by - El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica...Sophia and I wasted the day away playing cards, watching films and yakking away, nineteen to the dozen. Not such a bad way to spend your first day as an old codger. We arrived in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica at 10pm. Sophia's annoying friends wanted…

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Day 58: Go Yell It To The Ocean

27.02.09: The Longest Day Part I. So, we got to Tapachula near the Guatemalan border early in the morning to find another bus to Guatemala City waiting to take me away, ha ha. So goodbye Mexico, I'll see you again next week. The journey into Guate City was fairly uneventful, as was the quick change for San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. I got in about 7pm. After an amazingly scary oh-dear-it's-dark-I-got-no-map-where-the-hell-is-an-ATM-when-you-need-one walk around the city, I found a bus that was leaving at 3am going all the way through Honduras, Nicaragua and ending up in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. It would get me in at 10pm the same day. All good. I threw my bag in the bus station office and headed out to the pub. It was in the Irish bar (there's always an Irish bar) that I met Jorge…

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Day 57: Land Ahoy!

26.02.09: We arrived in Veracruz, Mexico at around 1pm local time. Yippee! Unfortunately for my itchy, goddamn-month-behind-schedule feet, the shipping agent says I've got to wait on board until 4pm before I can go to immigration and hit that goddamn road. Grr!! Because I've landed a good 1000 miles north of where I was supposed to be landing, I've got to get a bus down to Panama via Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica and then back up again. Because I didn't get a chance to go to Fed-Ex in Jamaica, I don't have a guidebook, or a map - well, I've scrawled a quick map on the back of a scrap of paper in my back pocket. It'll do. Let's hope something is heading south this evening... Later... So at 4pm, it was time to say adios to my comrades on board…

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Day 56: Starry Starry Night

25.02.09: Last night, I spent a few hours up on the bridge with Alexander, one of the officers on board. He's from the Ukraine and loves to use the word ‘bullshit' in a thick Ukrainian accent. This I like. It was the night watch, so we went nuts on the coffee. The bridge is six stories above the deck (The Linge Trader is a big ship!) and there's a walkway around the bridge, which you can step out onto and give yourself vertigo. There was no moon, no clouds and the sky was littered with stars. Once again, I found myself wincing that Mandy, my girlfriend, wasn't here to see it. It's funny that every time I see something cool, I feel an overwhelming urge to grab someone else and say - look at this! Isn't it cool?! That's probably why I love Mandy - she…

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Day 55: Halcyon Days

24.02.09: I'm going to be 30 this Saturday. 30? Me? Where did all the time go? I'm still pleasantly surprised each morning that I don't have to put my school uniform on and listen to Brett and Jarvis and Thom and Damon on my Walkman WITH A TAPE IN IT outside the Old Swan pub waiting for the 68 or the 92 (whichever came first) with yellow, "Free Terry Fields" (who the hell was Terry Fields?) banners high on the nasty, nasty municipal flats that gloomily curved around the corner begging to be utterly destroyed and replaced with a great big, scouse Tesco! I still think it would be a good idea to head down to the swings in Springfield Park with Dino and a bottle of vodka and put the world to rights (and try to suss out the mystery of girls). I still think…

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Day 54: The Jam Maker

23.02.09: 5.30am. The phone rang. Groggily, I answered it. Hello? It was the captain. You have to get off this ship. Now. We will not take you and the ship leaves in ten minutes. Get off! In an obstinate attempt to force fate to ensure I got to stay on the Linge Trader, I hadn't packed my bags, and my crap was spread out all over the cabin. I hurriedly stuffed everything into my backpack, possibly breaking all my things in the process and trudged downstairs like a man condemned. Into the ship's office and there was Junior finishing up the ship's paperwork. What was I doing? I have to get off, the captain says... No, no, no - you can't get off here, they won't let you. What? Immigration say you cannot get off. I'll ring the captain. A fraught phone call ensued. The outcome…

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Day 53: Walking The Plank

22.02.09: We pulled into Kingston, Jamaica at about 6pm. I could see the Pamplona, the ship that will be taking me to Costa Rica, on the other side of the dock, ready to leave at midnight. But The Caribbean had one last trick up its evil little sleeve for me. The permission hadn't come through from the owners. To cut a long story short, there was no way I was getting on that boat. A flutter of activity between me and Dino (so sorry Dino), keeping him up until 1am on a Sunday night with work in the morning. Options, options, options. Then, captain Van Der Plaats suggested I stay on board here. We would be in Mexico on Thursday. I was tired, I was fed up and I had no intention of spending an extra second more than I had to in the Caribbean. I…

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Day 52: We Could Be Heroes

21.02.09: Dolphins!! I decided to stretch my legs out on deck and saw hundreds of dolphins splashing about in the water, having a good time. But by the time I got my camera out, they all splashed away. Must've not wanted the bother of signing those damn release forms. We made it into Port-au-Prince (Haiti) in the afternoon, and I can't help the feeling we are going nowhere fast - we've just sailed around the damn island! At least tomorrow we'll be in Jamaica. Oh yeah. Jamaica. I'm planning to meet a girl called Dianne who's going to teach me to play the steel drums. I tried to get out of the port to have a mooch around the city of Port-au-Prince, but it was getting dark and I couldn't get myself a port pass, which is different from a passport. So I watched the containers…

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Day 51: The Other Odyssey

20.02.09: Today passed in a daze. Out to sea, no mobile phone, no internet. I think I had been saving up my first day off work for today. I lay exhausted, in my cabin and read The Odyssey again. The old one, not this one. I'm not that much of an ego maniac. Although I've got to say that old Odysseus and I would have probably got on like a house on fire - faced with choosing between sparing the life of a priest or a poet, he spares the poet. Nice to see adventurer/priestly relations haven't improved much in three millennia.

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