The drive to LA was largely uneventful until we arrived. Then it quickly became a series of jump outs to enquire whether or not that particular Motel had any rooms. They did not. Until we arrived at a pleasant little place which was also sorry to inform me that they didn’t have any rooms but that they did know a place that had a vacancy. One phone call and an efficient series of wrong turns later we arrived. At $70 dollars a night, it was the most expensive place we had stayed so far in the US, but, needs must and we gratefully accepted the keys from the man in the open dressing gown, the vest and the boxers before dragging our bags into the room. It wasn’t the nicest place. For one, it had a colony of Ants leading onto and off of a large brown stain which was half in and half out of the stinking bathroom. The sheets were a different shade of brown than the stain on the floor, but brown nonetheless and there was a pane of glass missing from the window. Emma and I scanned the room, seeing everything at exactly the same time before looking at each other with horrified expressions. Not only that, but there was a fucking parrot in the room next door and it was making a bloody racket all night.
The next day, the screeching of the parrot still ringing in our ears, we moved to a hostel on Venice Beach, which was a lot better. We dumped our bags and went for a walk along the promenade. Oh the humanity. Rollerblading cats being dragged by their owners as they skateboard along in a pair of stonewashed hotpants past the stall owners who proclaimed themselves to be ‘Kush Doctors’ – this being California, the same rules apply here as in San Francisco where cannabis is concerned – people dressed in every conceivable get up are parading their individuality up and down Venice beach. The place has a horribly fascinating aspect to it, as well as good bars, hustlers, players, the world famous ‘Muscle Beach’ and highly competitive games of Basketball, Handball and ‘guess where the ball is when I move these three cups around’. In a lot of ways it looks like the recreation yard at Pelican Bay. You’ll only get that reference if you have watched ‘America’s Hardest Prisons’ but I make no apology for it. We spent a lot of time there and, barring certain places in India, is my number one spot for people watching in any of the countries we’ve visited so far.
On our return to the hostel we got a couple of beers and went to the common area to drink them. We came in as the news was starting and in between the post Oscars chatter there was a story regarding a paedophile, now thought to be in the Los Angeles area, who was easily recognisable by the fact that he often walked along nearby Long Beach with a parrot on his shoulder. We both thought back to the previous night’s sleeplessness. The co-incidence was too great, surely not? The story continued and in rip roaring American broadcasting style ‘The paedophile used a parrot to lure children to a secluded spot, where he’d molest them.’ Should we call the police? Na, fuck it. We’re off to Rio in two days, what we should do, is get more beers before the shops shut. So we did.
The next day we took two buses, the car was parked in a non paying zone and we didn’t dare move it for fear of losing the spot, to Hollywood and walked along looking at the stars with people’s names written in them. That was pretty much that in Hollywood. I don’t know exactly what we were expecting, but whatever it was, we thought it would be better than that. So back to Venice Beach for some more gawping at the weirdos , a good old fashioned American bar meal and then bed. My cousin Marianne lives in LA with her husband Jose and their son Romain, possibly one of the cutest kids in the whole American continent, not too far from Venice Beach and we went round to hers for a delicious meal, probably the healthiest thing we ate during the entirety of our trip around the states and some excellent chat and insight into the LA way of life. A good evening was had by all and if you’re reading this Marianne, Emma and I would like to thank you once again!
The next day, our last in the US, was spent rollerblading from Venice to Santa Monica. I bought a silver banana hammock for the journey but Emma stopped me from pairing it with my rented rollerblades for an ensemble that really wouldn’t have looked that out of place next to some of the get up these uber cool LA hipsters were wearing without any hint of shame or irony. We had a nice blade around until we saw a bar offering some crazy deals on giant, American sized Margheritas. We met some characters in that place. One gay 40 something took a shine to Emma’s front boobs whilst we watched one of the cheesiest men in the United States chat up a girl. “Are you spiritual at all?” He asked. I involuntarily laughed at this toe curling attempt at painting himself as some kind of guru in the pursuit of ‘tail’ as the Americans charmingly refer to fanny. Even the flamboyant gay guy raised an eyebrow, but I think his face may have been permanently frozen in that position.
After returning the skates we inadvertently stumbled onto the set of the American Torchwood filming on the beach, we only realised when the director came round to tell people what position to sit in as the wind whistled around the goose pimpled extras. “Are you with us?” He shouted. “Na” I replied. “LOVE IIIIT!” he stated before carrying on back to the cameras for another take. It was about then that we took our leave. After all, we were heading to Rio de Janeiro the next day and the flight was by no means direct, so we headed on back and packed our bags in readiness for the next stage of the trip. South America and Carnivale.