Americas

Canada is the perfect place to simply disappear. The moment you leave city you enter wilderness. Canada has always been high on my list of favourite places. A job assignment once took me into Vancouver. I can but recommend this lovely country to everybody tired of whatever day-to-day routines he or she might be living.

Later on I went to British Columbia, which is simply gorgeous. On another occasion I decided going up to Nome in Alaska to head down the Pan Americana all the way down to Fireland at the very end of the world, Patagonia, Chile. If only you stay far enough North on either coast, you may actually believe the crap they print in the holiday brochures. There was a time, when I had a very pro-US attitude, but that was before I went to see for myself what the land of milk and honey is really like. You might have guessed, life is not a fairy tale.

The more South you go, the sicker the Cowboys get. I found it amazing how easy it is to meet so many dummies in so little time. Even more, since this country claims to be one of the most advanced. Well, since they refer to the stolen land as their own, I suppose this would translate into stolen technology. If not for Russia, France, and Mexico trading off territories under rather dubious circumstances, the all so proud, megalomaniac US of A would be little more but a bird's sh*t in the wind. In Europe we call this having a problem with reality. Maybe that is why CIA and Friends walk free to bomb and masskill live and in colour.

Of course, you need to have a freakshow or some of the Georges running the country and to blame somebody else who happens to be a former CIA master trainee. Well, it's always nice to have a little support from Jim Henson's The Muppets, err, CNN Show to promote an excuse for invading sovereign countries and call it Project Freedom. HA! Lets make this clear: I am not promoting any of the too many despotic regimes inhabiting this planet. However, it must not be the decision of a single country to rule things good or bad; and more so, if that country:

Excuse me? Just who the eff you think you are? Whatever your opinion on this country's politics, let it not stop you from visiting at least some of its wonderful nature sights. There is a lot more than Niagara Falls, Rocky Mountains or Grand Canyon. However, depending, how long it will take the Yosemite Caldera to blow up finally, you probably ought to hurry-up a little.

Global pollution and waste of resources is a topic, I have come to realise rather late myself. The signatures on the original Kyoto treaty are impressive. However, those missing are much more interesting. And yes, one of those missing is that of the US of A. The country, which likes to play the planetary police; with all the rights and zero duty. Strange enough, how a country without culture and history can get away with it so easily.

As a European I am part of a society, which had established civilised traditions and cultural communities long before there was something like Americans. Most Europeans are educated well enough to live perfectly happy without having to adopt or copy the so-called American Way - leave that for the Banana Republics for wherever they are. If anybody would have known what a gang of bastards would become of the offspring of those daring souls aboard the Mayflower, they would have probably never sailed in the first place.

One more thing you might have been thinking about yourself, especially if you happen to know a little Spanish. Imagine being a sailor with Columbus. Just ahead of some virgin beach the damn thing finally falls apart, leaving you stranded somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Many eyes have been watching, and now the native Indians approach the strange band of bodies. What follows, is the recovery of your little troop. Since you are Spanish, you are very religious, so you speak a little prayer, Amen Rica.

Got the hint? However, you weren't really Spanish if apart from being a catholic fanatic you'd also be extremely poor, and thus, as greedy as greedy can be. Therefore, when you return home to tell your so very catholic king and queen all those fantastic stories, they provide you with their best wishes and just a few cannon balls on top to express their great thankfulness. Time for another prayer, Amen Rica. Still missing the hint? Think Amen Rica, say America.

Pan Americana

I admit, there were times on my solitary; and rather freezing; way to Nome at the end of Alaska, when I was about to give it all up and return home to the UK. Short of Nome a patrol picked me up, straight into custody. Times weren't all that relaxed back then, especially within viewing distance of the arch enemy, Communist Russia.

The native Inuit of Alaska are a very friendly people. I think I have hardly ever gotten more invitations to stay over anywhere else. Being their guest is special; food and beverages even more. If ever you happen to make this experience, at least try a little; if only to respect their traditions and to be polite. They understand perfectly well that raw or half-rotten meat or solid fat is not your type of regular nutrition, but the fun is the greater, the harder you vomit. Thank god, I had some Cookies and Earl Grey to go with. There is a similar tradition in Mongolia, but unfortunately I have not yet had a chance to travel this remote country.

The first leg of The Pan Americana takes you across the US before entering Mexico about half the way. You really ought to leave the main track every now and then to explore a little further inland. There are many great sites along the way. Of course, if you are in a hurry to return to your Office seat, the Pan Americana is not for you. It took me about nine months to arrive in Fireland, Patagonia, at the very end of Chile not far off the South Pole. While the North American part of The Pan Americana allows for somewhat fast movement, the South American leg will eat your time. Whatever type of transport you are using, you had better calculated double or triple the time.

One of the few locations I would always recommend visiting is Costa Rica. A small country it may be on the map, but in terms of nature, sights and sounds it is one of the greatest places on earth. If you would ask me how to describe paradise, I would probably reply Costa Rica. Whatever you may be interested in, they have it. Once you leave the beaches, you can climb the mountains or check the volcanoes and waterfalls. If you dare, you could go exploring the jungle.

At the end of the day, you will most certainly love a steaming cup of one of the world's most excellent coffee's. If you have no idea where to spend the night, or your budget does not allow for a typical hotel, just relax and wait. While your coffee expands its flavour the problem is likely to solve itself. I remember hanging around a plaza in San Jose almost all day, thinking whether to take a break or to continue my trip.

The first offer came, naturally at an astronomically high price for one night. The second was asking the same, but for a week. Just before heading for the bus, I accepted an offer for a small place with the family who owned it. I stayed almost 3 months, hardly paying more. Costa Rica is a country with lots of magic. However, despite its name, which translates into something like rich coast, it is a land of the poor. Yet people are very kind and rather different from the rest of Latin America.

South of the Panama canal time switches into reverse. Vehicles seem to be a puzzle of pre-industrial experiments and the remains of some visitors from outer-space. This part of the Pan Americana takes you across tracks, which make your heart stop. Watching a movie of my tour running fast-forward must give a funny picture. Two heads taller in the very North, before sizes gradually caught up, and then two heads taller again in the South; like some giant alien.