I slept on the plane and woke up in Mexico City. I had an overnight layover there. I passed customs, changed 5 US dollars into Mexican pesos and took to the streets!
It was about 10PM but I wanted to explore. I walked through the darkness as a lone gringo in the quiet industrial area where I found myself near the airport. Eventually there was activity, a fast food place, some gas stations, convenience stores and even street food vendors still out this late at night.
My five dollars got me two different packages of cookies, a bottle of aqua, a bag of the best tortilla chips in the world, a street meal of tacos and I still had change leftover! Mexico is my favorite country! Although I would later become sick with diarrhea, probably from the tacos.
I saw a lot of trash in the streets… it’s sad. I love Mexico, but they face so many problems in today’s world. I walked for most of the night.
Hours later I made it back to the airport and went through security to wait for my 6AM flight. I fell asleep piled uncomfortably on some chairs and woke up just in time, disoriented. Slumber hit again once back on the plane and before I knew it I was looking down on Los Angeles.
The Californian hills and peaks were surrounding the urban sprawl where it came to the ocean. To me it looked familiar, like the America I knew. It looked like a beautiful place.
I walked off the plane and onto a shuttle bus full of Mexican people for the most part, and it made me think. For the first time in nearly four months I was reading signage and advertisements in English. It was exciting to me to be home but I wonder what these Mexican people think to be here. There has been this bigoted rhetoric against Mexico in our media and politics lately, and I think it would be scary to come here as a Mexican right now. Most likely they would feel the same tension here as I rightly felt when walking alone on the streets of Mexico City.
But the dangers in the US and in Mexico are different- and Los Angeles is a story all its own. LA has a huge population of immigrants- like I’d say 100%. First of all we want Mexicans here, they have amazing food and are our neighbors, and secondly they built this city along with everyone else. It’s their city. To say that anyone isn’t allowed in this city is hypocrisy at its finest.
Although the airport is in the USA I still observed probably 50% of the signage in Spanish, as well as the passing conversation. The airport was huge, completely crowded, and I waited in extremely long lines passing through customs and security. A plane from Hong Kong dumped off a million Asian people. I was searched multiple times and had to wait in more lines, and more.
However, I met some very nice people here in the USA! One girl gave me her fancy, non-gmo-organic beverage which I drank for her before having to throw it out at the TSA security. The security guards were funny and laughing. People working at the airport were kind to me. Not like the Peru airport at all or Mexico City. I noticed people there were often terse, rude, serious, unsmiling. People here seemed happy.
I boarded another plane and was whisked away over the snow covered Sierra Nevada Mountains. All the grandeur of the American desert was below me.
Memories flooded back of times gone past. I looked right at Death Valley, and then Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake and Lake Tahoe all in quick succession before we were over a completely snow covered Northern California and finally hit fog over Oregon. Maybe I had forgotten about the season, it’s January and the dead of winter.
In Seattle, I again noticed the friendly people, but even friendlier here. Everyone was so nice to me! I love the USA I realized! This is a great country. Obviously people live easier lives here than the people in South America. The USA is also very multi-cultural, while in Peru and Mexico you mostly see just Peruvians or Mexicans respectively. That is part of what is amazing about the USA.
The general population here gets along! But maybe this is especially true of the west coast USA… Seattle is a lovely city. Sitting in the middle of the food court was a “water bottle filling station.” Pure water flowing right from the tap. What a novel idea… So many water bottles in South America fill the landfills or flood the streets. Definitely a step in the right direction!
I went outside and of course this is Seattle so it’s RAINING. The cold air slapped me in the face, the first real winter breeze I had felt in a while. I was giddy to see pine trees again, only so briefly. I was soaking wet before long, and turned back inside. Okay, that’s enough winter! It’s warm where I’m going. I got on yet another plane.
Seems a little stupid but I was taken back to California. I spent the night at the Oakland airport. I had bought this outrageous collection of plane tickets to get to Hawaii on the relatively cheap. After a poor sleep on the ice cube-like marble floors, I got on another plane.
Fortunately I had two seats to myself and slept away the ride. Then I was looking over the deep, bright blue ocean. The Hawaiian Islands looked mysterious.
Where am I, where am I going, and why, were some of my idle wonderings. I wasn’t too concerned with the mystery though, because my mother had decided to seize the opportunity and come enjoy her vacation with me in Hawaii. So, I’d be treated to a week in a hotel with her before I’d be on my own.
I stepped off the plane and waited for her. The air was pure. The heat felt perfect. The mountains intrigued me immediately- jagged rock, wickedly volcanic and deeply green where they rose from the blue ocean. Palm trees swayed in the breeze and bright red hibiscus poked out of the bushes.
It was very nice to see my mom and we also got a rental car.
So for the next week I just completely chilled in hotels, it felt pretty decadent. But I had some good quality time with my mom, we went on hikes and went out to eat a lot as well as drove around the island. I got to see a bunch of incredible things, went kayaking and swam in a waterfall one day. It was definitely a once in a lifetime kind of trip for her, and seeing Hawaii has always been on my bucket list.
We just stayed on Kauai, and for the next month I wouldn’t leave that little island. But it’s actually pretty huge for a small island, you are able to drive the highway there for about 50 miles. It’s a lot more like a normal US state than I may have realized, possibly there’s similarities to Florida in the towns. The nature however is out-of-this-world if you go into the mountains. They rise up in abrupt, psychotic peaks of carved red mud, cloaked in exotic hues of emerald green.
My mom helped me get some systems back together, I needed to buy some things from Walmart so I could survive on my own. All I had was an extra-large bag made of colorful woven plastic strands, it was very flimsy, and holding all my things. I ordered a new backpack online to replace it, it would come to a post office general delivery. I also got a library card.
I walked away from the airport after my mom left and fell asleep on the ground beneath a tree for a while. Then I walked.
The town where I would pick up my backpack was named Kapa’a, so I walked in that direction. It was 8 miles from the airport, and I walked 4 of those along the highway. This place has space!
Between the town of Lihue where the airport is, and Kapa’a, the next town north, there is nothing but plains of tall grass, jungle, and a jagged mountain ridge.
At a point on the highway there was a grave for someone covered in flowers. At that point I cut into the roadside jungle, where I magically found a rickety bridge crossing a stream. Then I found a dirt road and walked it beneath the tree cover. It brought me to the base of the mountain ridge and another long, lonely dirt road.
I walked through the dry, spacious country, until I found another hole in shrubby trees. I followed a path back in. It was faint. Then I saw a sign! It read Russian Boar Trail, but the letters were all written backwards. I knew I could camp in here somewhere…
I didn’t follow the direction the sign pointed, instead taking a side trail. Pretty soon, hiking upwards, I saw another sign. It said Jailhouse Rocks. I again took the opposite fork from the direction the sign pointed.
Then I broke the treeline, I was hiking up the ridge. The view was marvelous to the sea and Kapa’a, and a lone rock mountain which jutted up spectacularly next to the ocean on the horizon. I found the most perfect spot to camp.
It was a small canyon carving out a beautiful living space in the red, orange and purple hued dirt. There was a stand of tamarisk trees from which you could look down the canyon, and they made a soft carpet of pine needles. I setup the cheap, 20$ tent I had bought in Peru under those trees, and from my comfortable room I had an ocean view.
The pine needles made a couch to lay on, and I found there were no bugs bothering me. It also seemed like a pretty dry place, and sure enough rain would never bother me. It also never got too cold, however I never complained about being too hot. Fire started immediately and gave me an efficient way to cook eggs for dinner.
The sunrise woke me up in the morning, a golden orb hovering in the warm, humid air. I looked out to the land and realized I had fallen in love with this place. I couldn’t deny it was completely perfect here in every way. Breathing the warm air at night… So pure and so still… I slept like I was in heaven.
I spent 5 days there. In that time I found a bicycle I could rent for the month. I also got my backpack, so now I had freedom to travel the roads again. I had wanted to find a job- to make money- but I had given up the idea.
I was hired in Alaska, and the job started earlier than I thought it would. I would need to go home to prepare. It was February now, I’d need to be in Alaska in April… This only gave me a handful of weeks to register and fix my truck, prepare, and drive cross country. Also I needed a new passport, new driver’s license, new shoes, there was a litany of errands to run. And for some reason I was in Hawaii! But there really was no reason good enough for me to go back to the cold weather yet, I’d go home in March.
I figured I could volunteer somewhere, or better yet, just live in the jungle in my tent and enjoy some solitude for a while. So that’s exactly what I did. Kapa’a was kind to me. I swam in the crystal clear waters there every day. I relaxed on the pristine beaches along with other vagabonds I observed, who washed up there somehow just like I had. Then one day I packed up my beautiful mountain castle camp at the Jailhouse Rocks, and left on my bicycle.
I rode the entire island all the way to the northernmost area, just passed a town called Hanalei. I spent a week there at a spot I established.
This spot was more sweepingly beautiful, like a castle high up on the mountain. I had a living room nestled in a twisted Ironwood pine tree, adjacent was a cliffside kitchen and incredible view to the rolling waves on the sea… On the other side of the path was my bedroom and porch with a totally different view down to the turquoise Hanalei Bay and verdant backdrop of rainforest mountains.
This part of the island was lusher. It rained more here, but still not enough to cause me any trouble. Living here couldn’t be beat by the finest mansion money can buy.
There was a man who lived on this mountainside, I thought of him kind of as my landlord… it was like I was renting out a nice condo. His name was Steve and he had lived on the side of that mountain for ten years.
Well he had picked a pretty good spot! I parked my bike next to Steve’s bike in the “garage” down below. During the day I would bike around, swim, go to the library, or just stay in the forest and read. I seemed to have no problem frittering away my time.
At the base of my mountain castle were cliffs that fell away to the sea. I climbed and explored all around them, there were tide pools which would fill and retreat when waves would splash into them. They made bubbly pools I could swim in. The waves would be massive as they broke on the cliffs, in one spot I found a blow horn shooting out a column of cold mist I could stand in!
I left Hanalei after the week was up and travelled again. I went on a journey. I tried to bike the “Powerlines Trail” across the island but found it impassable. Not impossible… just impassable! The bike and I ended up covered in mud, deep in the wild where the tall grass swallowed the trail.
I turned back, broke the bike seat which I was able to fix after buying a wrench, and took a bus back to Kapa’a. Thankfully my old spot at Jailhouse Rocks was waiting for me. I got really sick that night with a fever-like condition, not sure what happened to me.
In the morning I felt awful but decided to continue my journey, and I biked the rest of the way across the island. I biked to a town on the west end called Waimea.
I probably biked 40 hard miles through the beautiful land. People would say to me… you know you can just put your bike on the bus. I know that! I just sincerely WANT to do this… Maybe it’s crazy.
But that night it finally rained. It rained harder than I ever saw on Kauai. It destroyed me, the tent leaked real badly. I woke up at 3AM and couldn’t sleep through the sunrise and beyond. I still felt sick too, it was stupid. All my possessions became soaked.
I tried to let things dry, but it was useless as rain came back during the new day. I packed up soaking wet and the dirt road I had rode in to find this spot had become a mud bath. Picture me, pissed off, trudging through this mud which eventually sucked my shoes off and I had to leave them behind temporarily. I had bigger problems- pushing the bike, and it became completely mud covered to the point where it no longer would move and was 100 llbs heavier. Then the downpour ensued and I had to carry the mud caked bike through the rain…
I got (extremely) lucky and found a garden hose to wash the bike off where the dirt road connected to the highway. I was really disheveled but the sun came out. I laid on the beach for a long time until things were dry…
That same day I went to explore the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It’s called Waimea Canyon and is a marvelous place.
I biked up there, but the road to the state park was far too steep uphill for me to bike. I also had a fully loaded backpack. I was completely drenched in sweat like a pig without even needing to bike!
Fortunately a pickup truck stopped and offered me a ride. “How far are you going?” They asked. “I don’t know! …The top?” They were going to the top too, and took me there. I figured I could always bike back down.
I rode in the pickup bed next to my bicycle as we flew up the canyon. A thrilling ride, and I got to watch the tropical landscape give way to eucalyptus trees of a higher elevation. The air became cold! I would be spending a few days up here, and I realized I might not be prepared for the cold.
We arrived at the top of the road at over 5000 feet of elevation. The overlook gazed down onto the Kalalau Valley, part of the famous Napali coastline. It’s a valley between immense sheer ridges, ridges of verdant mud carved into delicate ripples by flowing water.
The area is incredible because the dramatic coast is on one side of the state park, but just on the other side is this fantastic red canyon which goes on and on. It is very reminiscent of the American West, similar to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
I biked down from the overlook and found the trail I wanted to hike in the morning. I locked the bike and went a short ways down it. I setup the tent in this place… The real rainforest… A haunting spirit world… Without warning the rain broke as the sun set, it was a massive condensation happening all at once, which probably happens here every day.
The top of Mt. Waialeale is the wettest spot on earth. Up there it is so ravaged by rain that life cannot survive. I was in it tonight… but stayed dry and slept fine for the first time in a few days.
All I heard throughout the night was rain splashing down through the waxy mahogany leaves. The occasional wild chicken screeching bloody murder. It was the spookiest forest I’ve ever been in, I’m not completely sure why.
I hiked barefoot in the morning very far through the mysterious, wet place. I made it to the top of one of those fluted ridges high above the ocean… I was so high you couldn’t see where the water met the sky. Helicopters were flying below me as they usually were on my exploits here. I scrambled around the divine scenery, I sat and took in the view.
Then later that day I hiked into Waimea Canyon. I hiked all the way to the bottom. I spent two nights down there, and searched all through its mazelike passageways. I felt like I was back in the desert in Utah, or as though I was hiking through the Grand Canyon if it had been instead located in a tropical-paradise-type climate.
It was a fantastic time where I walked barefoot through the rivers and saw plants I had never seen before. Then I hiked out, went back to town and ate some food because I had long run out.
The bike ride down that canyon was about the most exhilarating ride of my life, the road followed a volcanic ridge all the way to the vast blue ocean.
I went and spent 4 days at Polihale Beach, the most sublime beach on earth possibly. At the far west end of the island, it is hidden and out of the way. The place is huge, with the Napali Coast cliffs edging it to the north. The beach is simply huge, the waves are always huge, and violent, but swimming safely is a great time.
I camped a short walk down the beach but would see very few people out there. I was hidden by sand dunes but could still view the ocean from my tent. And listen to its power, and feel the humid air which I could see as the waves turned into mist where they hit the big cliffs to the north. It was paradise.
I would sit reading on top of a sand dune and watch the sunset, easily the most incredible time to be at Polihale. Nowhere I’ve ever been has had sunsets as good as here. The waves rolling in from the ocean would be clear and glassy turquoise all day, but at this time they would flush orange. The light every night would become fiery, and reflect in mesmerizing patterns on the crystal ocean.
The stars at night were blissful too.
My time would soon be up here. I don’t have an excuse for our modern society why I came, and I don’t need one.
My dad then came to visit me. Really nice how it worked out that my mother could come on vacation while I was settling in, and then my dad could come now while I’m preparing to leave. He was on a bit of a tighter budget, and now I knew the island really well and didn’t need to stay in hotels!
We camped the whole time, except for two nights in a hotel at the end of the trip. The two of us had such a good time, he rented a bicycle too and we took the bus and rode everywhere! I showed him my three homes on the island, at Jailhouse Rocks, Steve’s mountain at Hanalei, and finally Polihale Beach, which was the most epic spot of all.
Dad and I climbed a mountain called Okalehau which was one of the most extreme “hikes” I’ve ever done! It involved climbing hundreds of feet on ropes up the muddy cliffs. The trail would drop off thousands of feet on both sides, a true knife’s edge ridge.
A few days later Dad and I went to the mystical blue hole at Waialeale. We followed a stream all day and it flash flooded on us! What was knee deep stream crossing on the way out was literally neck deep or worse on the way back. Needless to say we were in for a bit of a death defying swim! But we made it in the end to the most sacred spot in all of Hawaii.
Dad also took me up for the helicopter tour, to cap off the Hawaiian adventure with a huge thrill ride.
Finally after 6 weeks had passed, the day came to leave. It rained that day for a long time and I sat in the library after dad left on his flight. I walked all around and thought a lot. My layover was in Honolulu… Then I was back in Los Angeles.
I had a 42 hour layover there in order to visit the DMV and get a replacement driver’s license. It didn’t cost me any more money to take separate flights like this. I got to the airport at 5AM and walked.
I walked for 3 hours and made it to a DMV in Inglewood, California. After a lot of hassle and standing in line for hours, I succeeded. I was given the interim license and they would mail me the new one.
After that I decided, why not explore LA?
So I walked incredibly far on the highway, and wound my way eventually through the LaBrea tar pit area. I saw the Hollywood sign off in the distance and decided to try and get to it.
I took a bus across the city.
Crazy people were everywhere. People talking to themselves vehemently on the bus or in the streets. I got off the bus at Santa Monica Boulevard and walked down the Hollywood walk of fame. What I saw eventually made me scared.
The homeless problem was very in-your-face. These homeless people were not tame, they seemed like they might attack me. I felt acutely aware of pickpockets everywhere. People stared at me, people tried to talk to me, I did not blend in with my big backpack. Usually I am invisible and can wander through places unnoticed, but not here.
I saw one kid who was jumping and dancing in the streets, but he worried me because he was surely on drugs and could walk as fast as I could. I assumed if he got too close he might just throw a punch. So out of control the place seemed… I later saw this kid again, but he didn’t look so happy the second time. He looked frightened, and one of his eyes had gone psycho bloodshot and was bulging out of his head.
I wasn’t on the Hollywood strip for long before fleeing the place, and I walked then through Beverly Hills. Beneath some opulent mansions with signage saying 24 hour armed guards and barking dogs, I saw a homeless man dying in the streets. He couldn’t have had much longer to live. His whole body was covered in rotting sores, his ass was hanging out of his pants, stained brown and flies were swarming on it eating the man’s flesh. … That’s LA for you I gurss… He was laying there in garbage, looking like roadkill, beneath some of the most expensive houses I’ve ever seen.
Funny that when I walked across Inglewood, the black neighborhood where everyone is poor, the people were all quite friendly to me. Not here, where the super-rich people live… Here is where the beggars are drawn to, because this is where the money is. And the drugs turn them insane. You could see so plainly how corrupt this society was. Corrupted obviously by the big money.
I felt less safe here in LA than any city I had ever been in before. This city was scarier than Guatemala City, or the slummiest place in Panama or Ecuador. The politically charged environment wasn’t helping matters either.
I actually did get pickpocketed as a homeless guy was trying to engage me when walking back on the Hollywood Boulevard. My backpacks side zipper pocket had been unzipped and three one dollar bills had been stolen. Fortunately I had been holding my wallet and phone paranoid in my pocket.
I was really scared now, like I needed to escape this place as soon as possible before I was truly robbed.
I made it onto a bus and eventually found myself back at those LaBrea Tar pits. I camped on a secluded hilltop after my exhausting day of travelling. I had learned something in LA, if unsure quite what it was.
All night long I was plagued with dreams about the world ending. I couldn’t sleep from the cold, I only had a thin blanket which was sufficient for Hawaii. I woke up in the morning to the sickening sound, tick-tick-tick sluuuuurp, of the oil rigs pumping the fields.
I spent the whole day walking or killing time, I sat in a kombucha/hipster bar for 8 hours and made a friend… but I was sleepy… too sleepy… I hadn’t actually slept properly in days. I fell asleep in front of the airport gate, and although they called my name repeatedly on the loudspeaker, I didn’t wake up, and slept 5 minutes passed my flight taking off.
I missed the flight.
I went crazy for a bit, exploded, and then went back to sleep for the rest of the night in the airport. My 42 hour layover just became a 55 hour layover. Finally I was flying back to Boston for no extra charge.
It was cold in Boston. Freezing! So fresh though, this city. The colonial architecture is beautiful, the bricks. The people are subdued too, not like the wild people of LA. Boston has to be the best city of them all. It brought me to tears to be here.
I walked with my brother across the Boston winter evening, early in the month of March. I made it to the train and went home to my mother’s house. That’s where I currently sit typing this, but now it’s time to leave again.
I spent a quick month here catching up with family, as well as registering and fixing my vehicle, renewing my passport, fixing as much of the damage as possible that I caused by losing all my possessions in the river. So I bought a whole bunch of new things and now I’m ready.
Tomorrow I’m going to start driving and go eventually to Alaska. Yet another chapter is turning. I’m really excited for the road ahead.