Chicago interlude

Okay, I know I said I was off to South America, but I had a brief couple of days in Chicago on the way with my friends Mike n´Jax first. It´s a railroad city first and foremost, where trains the length of entire English towns snake through the landscape, and is also home of the first modern skyscraper in the world. Thus, after an entertainingly jetlagged night of beer, mexican food and discussions of third wave feminism and post-structuralism (incorporating a blast on Halo 3 on a TV the size of a small cinema screen) I got the train into the centre of town and went up the 103 floors of the Sears Tower to its skydeck. For most of the end of the last century this was the tallest building in the world, which certainly helps when you´re looking at clouds rolling in from the grain belt to the south and thinking uh-ho.

Chicago is not a city inclined to muck about with its weather warnings. None of that ´severe´ namby pamby stuff here...nope, in Chicago the warnings are éxtreme´, which concentrates the mind rather wonderfully. So, the first night we had tornado alerts and alarms blaring off in the distance, the next day hailstones the size of grapes were slamming into the pavements of the downtown areas. Luckily I managed to miss it all, and just wondered round oblivious to imminent metorological armaggedon and death from above, looking at some mightily impressive architecture while the overhead trains rattled past like the echo of a thousand Tom Waits songs.

Nice place. Will have to go back there and have a longer look around one day.

One story in the papers at the time was that O´Hare airport security had failed to find 60% of the fake bomb parts smuggled past them by inspectors, which is a) a bit crap and b) meant when I arrived in a sweaty breathless mess for my flight 5 minutes late, they weren´t inclined to let me on. Arse. Luckily, I also had a flight ticket for a plane five hours later (long story) so sat back, waited for that one and practised my Spanish on mystified airport staff.

All was going smoothly till we were 15 minutes late leaving for Miami due to a malfunctioning lavatory (that was fixed quickly, but the paperwork took ages) and with a genius eye on the law of sod, we also managed to land at exactly the other end of the aiport from my flight to Quito which left in half an hour. Yikes. Óh, it´s okay,´said the steward. ´It´s an old Airbus on that route and it´s always breaking down. You´ll make it.´

So, reassured and panicked at the same time (Like, how badly does it break down? Engines out of the sky sort of badly?)I commenced another mad dash to a departure gate, and arrived in my second sweaty mess of the day only to be told that yes, indeed, there was a small problem with the plane, and it was going to be leaving half an hour late. Hurrah. By this time I was rubbing dodarant on the outside of my clothes...

In this slightly smelly way I left North America in a plane full of middle aged Canadians heading for the Galapagos. I like to think the turbulence over Cuba was Castro cocking a snook at our decadent Imperialist presence passing over his head, but the engines stayed on all the same. Which was nice...

And that for the moment is that. Sorry for the sheer volume of wordage but these things get more terse as time passes, don´t worry, Give me a month and it´ll be ´Machu Pichu. V nice.´

Oh, and I won´t talk about the rugby if you don´t...

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