October 02, 2002 GMT
It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to

Here we are on the correct continent at last. Things are not however, going exactly according to plan…….

The bikes arrived at Los Angeles Harbour as expected on Weds 25th September, were unloaded on the Thursday and were waiting to be transported to a warehouse on Friday. As we were landing at LA airport, that same Friday morning, the port management decided to lock out all the longshoremen (dock workers) over a contract dispute that has been in the air for a couple of months.

Only vaguely aware of this, we enjoyed the weekend seeing the glitzy areas of LA.

By the way, we had no problems with immigration at LAX, we were not asked to show proof of funds or even an onward ticket. For once, we had both. Having heard how awkward US immigration officials can be, we bought a ‘Round the World’ ticket, with free date changes allowed. The return flight out of the US is dated just less than the 90 days they give you, which we have now changed to Sept 03. Not sure if we will use this part of the ticket yet, will have to wait and see……

Anyway, back to our plight.
Come Monday morning, we head off early on a borrowed motorbike to retrieve our bikes. Things go almost too smoothly, the shipping agent gave us all the correct forms, cost $160. At customs, we fill in plenty of forms, answer lots of questions and pay no money. We even manage to get a lift to the warehouse to pick up our bikes, problem is they aren’t there.

They are caught up in the dispute, missing port clearance by one day!! How frustrating is that!!
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The lock out looks set to continue for at least a week, there is talk of George Bush intervening, but it seems he has other things on his mind right now – thanks Saddam.
So we are stranded in LA, luckily with friends and maybe we can get to see some more of the city.


Posted by Sian Mackenzie at 06:19 AM GMT
October 08, 2002 GMT
LA Story


We have been in LA 12 days now, we are running out of patience, but there is nothing that we can do. We call the warehouse every day in the vague hope that our crates have slipped through the pickets, but the strike is holding firm. Nothing is moving, there are more ships arriving everyday, over 200 now wait offshore.
The government is finally getting involved as the economy starts to be affected, if luck is on our side we should be able to pick up the bikes tomorrow.
During last week we used a friends bike and went down to the port and chatted to the longshoremen who are picketing. It was interesting to hear what they had to say, but we couldn’t convince them to open the gates!!


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It has been a frustrating time, but luckily our friends are keeping us busy. We are seeing more of the area and meeting more people than we otherwise would have done. Thanks to Linda, who I met while travelling in Oz, on Big Trip 1, we have a great place to stay close to the beach, a fridge full of beer and the use of her motorbike. This travelling thing can be hard!! It has been an interesting start to our trip, here’s hoping that things go a little faster in the next few days.

Posted by Sian Mackenzie at 06:31 AM GMT
October 25, 2002 GMT
Oktoberfest and the Rodeo

A lot has happened in a short time. We at last have our bikes, bade farewell to LA and went to an Oktoberfest in San Diego. After a taste of the desert in SE Arizona and a visit to the old outlaw town of Tombstone, we crossed the border at Douglas, it was easy, but time consuming.

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The American customs guys spent ages chatting while filling in the forms. They even made copies of the “temporary importation for non residents” forms we had got in LA, as they claimed not to have seen them before! Once signed out of the US, it was over to Mexico. We missed the car park for customs and ended up on a grotty bit of waste ground behind the customs building, where our first sight in Mexico was 2 policemen dragging off some poor guy in handcuffs – good first impression!

It took a while to complete formalities as one of us stayed with the bikes. There were no hassles or unexpected surprise charges and we were soon on our way out of Agua Prieta, getting our first taste of driving on Mexican roads. For the record our tourist cards cost US$20 each and the temporary import permit US$24.
We spent our first night in Mexico, in a hotel by the highway in Janos. The bikes were parked out of sight of the road, the owner offered to put them in one of the rooms, but Black Betty was just a little wide for the door. Instead we locked the bikes together and took off anything likely to be stolen.

The next day we rode to south, past fields of chillies and apple orchards. The road varied between straight ahead, for kilometres at a time and winding hilly sections. We passed through an immigration check and a military checkpoint, without problems and reached Cuauhtémoc in the late afternoon.
Here we met a Mexican guy called Jésus, who invited us to go with him and his family to the rodeo in Chihuahua the next day. It was a great spectacle, guys strutting around in cowboy hats and boots, kids playing on the mechanical bucking bronco, goats being lassooed, and that was just the warm up. Around 5pm, the stadium began to really fill and by 6pm there was not an inch of space left, but still people were crowding in. After the rodeo riders were introduced, the show began with the traditional bucking horses, followed by other shows of lassooing skill.

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The finale was the bareback bull riding, well you could hardly call it riding as the bulls managed to throw the riders off after a few seconds, but it was still exciting to watch. It was a wonderful evening and a great introduction to the generosity of the average Mexican.

Posted by Sian Mackenzie at 12:46 AM GMT
 


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