From Switzerland to Buenos Aires

22 February - 13 March 2012. Filed under category Personal.


I love my new nomadic life, but I still miss the wonderful people I left behind, many of whom are in London. So despite it not being on my route to Buenos Aires, I bought a cheap EasyJet flight to London and spent ten days there.

I love coming back to London, but it is also quite stressful. I want to see everybody I know, but ten days just isn’t enough. I construct intricate calendars in a hopeless attempt to slot everybody in, but it never quite works. I run from a coffee here to a dinner there, and yet there just isn’t enough time.

But I will be back, so if I missed you, have your people call my people and we’ll make it happen next time.

Long Beach

The Sin Wagon

The Sin Wagon

My next long term (measured in months) destination was Buenos Aires, but on the way I wanted to visit the friends I made in Los Angeles and Long Beach half a year ago, in particular Don Kendrick. My airline patron made this both easy and cheap. A stand-by journey bought through him must be completed within two weeks. Two weeks! That is plenty of time for me to leave Los Angeles airport, play with my friends for thirteen days and then get my ‘connecting flight’ to Buenos Aires, all on one cheap ticket! (Thanks again, Craig!)

Don picked me up from the airport and drove me back to one of my growing number of homes-away-from-home, namely the motorhome in his driveway. I love it there! I’m contemplating one day stealing the motorhome and drive away. I’d end up on one of those high-speed police chase TV shows filmed from a helicopter. Don’s husband, Jim, is a traffic cop and might be the one to arrest me! Imagine the headlines! But alas, it is just a dream; it would never work. The motorhome is a beast of a machine and I doubt I could even manoeuvre it clear of the driveway.

I did get to ride the sin wagon. (That is the name of the motorhome, given after the song with the same name. Go on, put it on!) Don and Jim invited all their cowboy friends to help me celebrate my birthday in style. We all piled into the sin wagon and a few Jack’n’Cokes later, we all fell into Oil Can Harry’s, a country-western gay bar in Los Angeles. There I was manhandled through a flurry of two-step and shadow dances. I had a wickedly good time!

There are precious few sub-cultures left where couple dancing still plays a part. That is an absolute crying shame. The best nights out are always the ones where you get the swing your shaggys. (If that doesn’t make sense to you, look it up in your big dictionary of Swedish idiomatic expressions.)

Palm Springs

INNdulge, the Palm Springs resort we stayed at.

INNdulge, the Palm Springs resort we stayed at.

There are many things to love about California. The amazing and diverse nature is definitively in the top five. Don and I made two excursions during my visits. The first was to Palm Springs, which I’ve written about before. However, this time we did not go to San Jacinto or Joshua Tree. After the chill of Switzerland, I was quite happy to sit by the pool and soak in the desert sun. It makes for a boring blog post, but it felt damn good!

The Californians themselves are another of the top five reasons why California is so awesome. Don and I were more or less minding our own business at a bar when we got talking to a couple of guys, Dick and Jeff. Before the bar closed, we had an invitation to come and visit them at their desert home some miles outside Palm Springs.

Being a nomad, you quickly learn to rely on the kindness of strangers. That in turn has freed me from the misconception espoused so diligently by the media that the world is full of horrible mass-murdering psychopaths. In fact, it is full of awesome people, like Dick and Jeff, and all you need to do to get to know them is to trust that people often do extend kind offers without ulterior motives, and start saying ‘yes’.

Me, Jeff, Don and Dick

Me, Jeff, Don and Dick

Since I do not have a home of my own, I spend a lot of time in the homes of others. I’ve seen many homes that are good, functional but basic homes. I’ve been in some stunning modern homes too. But Dick and Jeff’s home takes the biscuit, smothers it in chocolate and fudge and serves it up with champagne. No boring clean white minimalist surfaces here! It is deeply personal and alive home, tastefully filled with amazing pieces of art and vivid colours. I got such a serious case of house envy that I was ready to abandon my nomadic dream before I remembered that my decorating ability begins and ends with IKEA.

The house, however, was just one side of this priceless coin. Dick and Jeff were master hosts and their captivating hospitality was simply inescapable. Don and I planned for an afternoon visit, and we ended up hanging around for two days! (Partly due to a desert storm.) Perhaps the reason we bonded so well with Dick and Jeff is that they too are Burners, and after six months away from Black Rock City, it was good for the four of us to reminisce about that other desert we love so much.

Welcome to wonderful Salton Sea.

Welcome to wonderful Salton Sea.

Driving back to Long Beach, we took a long detour. The main thing that we wanted to see was the Salton Sea. I’ve already seen an American ghost town, but this is something as rare as a ghost lake. In 1905, a combination of freak weather and human stupidity caused the Colorado River to flood the dry Salton Basin. Two years later, the largest lake in California had formed. In the 1950’s, prospectors spent fortunes to turn Salton Sea (as it was called) into the hottest recreational place for the rich and famous. Thirty years later, the salinity levels of this landlocked sea rose to the point that toxic algae bloomed and killed the fish, en masse, leaving nothing but an intolerable stench. Within a few years, the resorts and the marinas were abandoned, leaving behind a ghost lake of broken dreams and wasted investments. One eerie detail about the Salton Sea is that the white sand of the shores is not sand at all; it is the crushed bones of the dead fish.

Other sights on our drive back to Long Beach was an off-road vehicle training park (where Don the daredevil naturally had to play), a handful of ghost-towns in the making and a mountain road leading from the desert up through some green pastures to snow-on-the-ground pine tree covered land. This area has such a rich diversity of landscapes.

Big Bear

The silent invasion of wooden bears.

The silent invasion of wooden bears.

The second place Don and I went to was Big Bear. The astute reader will remember that we visited the little Big Bear cabin on my previous trip to California. Well, it is a beautiful wooded mountain town and deserves a return visit.

I noticed a change in the town though. Big Bear is silently being invaded by carved wooden bear statues. They move so slowly that I doubt that any of the residents have even noticed. It is like when you boil a live frog; raise the temperature slowly enough and the frog never notices. (Kids, don’t try this at home. [Use your dad’s office instead.]) But the invasion is evident to anyone visiting. Every single house has at least one of these arboreal monsters sneaking up on the unsuspecting families inside. I even caught one of the beasts climbing in through somebody’s window!

We were hoping for some skiing, but someone had stolen all the snow. (The wooden bears?) Instead and entirely unrelated, we got unseasonably warm weather. So Don and I drove around and simply enjoyed the scenery during the day and watched Rome (the best series ever produced) by the live fire in the cabin at night. (Mr Jack and his dear friend, Mr Coke, made several appearances, although they rarely stayed long.)

Then my thirteen-day flight connection was at an end. I packed my trusted backpack and went to the airport. It was time for me to go to Buenos Aires!

New Feature

I’ve added a feature where you can see, on the front page, which city I was last seen in and how long ago. Whenever my mobile phone finds and internet connection, it will report my location and it will show up on the blog. Happy stalking! Also, I’ve hopefully limited if not removed the ‘blinking text’ bug which caused the titles to blink a few times while loading a page. As always, please contact me if you see a bug on the site!

Travel Update

Seems a bit odd to give a travel update on a post that is itself a travel update, but since there is always a lag on the big posts, these ‘sidebar travel updates’ is where I can throw in some last minute stuff. I arrived in Buenos Aires just fine and found a great place to stay, but I’ve been so busy catching up on work that I haven’t had time to explore the city yet. Over and out.


Most people find commenting quite painless. Go on, try it!

Skip to bottom
  1. Craig Brown says:

    That’s so awesome that you went to the Salton Sea! And doubly so that Don thought to take you there. I’ve never been yet. It’s a good example of what can happen when man intervenes in nature. It’s just not possible to think of all the variables. It makes me crazy when I hear possible solutions to global warming, for example, like sending up particles high up in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight. Oops! Didn’t mean to freeze the planet! We should tamper with nature as little as possible; just too many feedback loops.

    Ouch! That comment hurt! It was prickly and tickly and a huge black ghost loomed over my self esteem whispering “No one cares to hear about your nerdy thoughts on the Salton Sea Craig….”

  2. Crys says:

    Craig, I enjoy your comments, nerdy or not.( and whose to say what nerdy is anyhow).
    Gustav, even though I don’t comment much, I am following you and loving your commentary and photos. No problems getting the update emails either. Wish I could say the same as far as figuring out what I am doing wrong to prevent me from commenting on SOMEONE ELSE’S blog…..
    and, to reference back to the “Cage” blog, I’m working on it…

  3. Johan Persson says:

    Jag skriver på svenska, hoppas det är okej.
    Fan vad avis man blir. Californien är ju ett sånt ställe som man bara vill uppleva. Jag förstår bara inte varför du inte försökte backa ut “Sin Wagon”:)
    Det är skönt att du även undervisar i idiotiska svenska uttryck. Det finns inget bättre än direkta översättningar “svänga sina lurviga” obetalbart.
    Skönt att läsa att du har samma koll på heminredning som jag. Ingvar Kamprad RULES.
    På nåt sätt så känns Salton Sea väldigt Americano det duger inte med sand på stranden det måste vara krossade fiskben,
    ohlala fina i kanten:) MEN ska tilläggas det hade varit asnice att se det. Ha de så bra i Brasilien.

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      For those who don’t know Swedish, Johan just said that he is donating half his earnings this year to the Nomad Liberation Fund and the other half to the Sin Wagon Restoration Foundation.

      Oh, and I am in Argentina, not Brazil.

      1. Johan Persson says:

        Ok from now on i’l wright my comments in English. So we dont get lost in translation. You se the problem before was that i just felt lazy, have to not choose the words so kindly proposed by my sweet phone. Shifting the keyboard in the cell from Swedish to English felt, at the time, like running le marathon. Sorry wont happen again. And yeah right Buenos Aires is located in Argentina. Not in my atlas. But then in my atlas Jugoslavia is still united. And there is this country called east Germany. So i guess you’re right.
        You actually now where you are.

        Keep up the good work. As i told you on boxingday. I really like your writing.
        Here’s a fun fact for you:
        When i type “writing” my splendid phone suggests the word “erotik” closely followed by “orgie”.

        1. Craig Brown says:

          Johan, first, the last two lines in your comment are hilarious! I don’t see a cause from the English side, must be something in Swedish. Second, your English is charming! And it is a formidable task writing in a foreign language on a phone keyboard!

  4. Johan Persson says:

    For being the kind of person who makes a computer play ded by the site of me. Im actually proud to say that i managed to create an acount on gravatar (wich was pretty easy). So now Gustav, you can see who i am.
    If you had forgotten my face that is.

  5. Brother Henrik says:

    Johan i dont remember if it was easy to create an acount on Gravatar ore not but i do remember that i do created one, but every time i post a coment here there is coming up a sign that i dont have Gravatar and the question if i whant to create one.

    1. The fake Henrik says:

      This is not Henrik. This is his brother, impersonating him to see if I get a false Gravatar signup encouragement,

      1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

        You are right! Why hasn’t anyone told me that that is broken? I’ll fix it… hold on…

        OK, I’ve just turned it off for everybody while I figure out what to do.

  6. Crys says:

    Oh, please, all of you, stop. You are making my sides hurt from laughing.
    Johan, you don’t know me or I you, but, you are deliciously funny. My computer sometimes also plays dead at the sight of me so don’t feel bad. And as far as English goes, a lot of us who can ONLY speak English feel extremely ignorant when someone whose first language is not English, writes as well as you ( and Brother Henrik, real or fake.) If this is all just an April Fool’s joke, good job.

  7. Johan Persson says:

    Well thanks y’all for thoose kind words about my English skills.
    I think i’l write a thankyou-note to the creators of The Simpsons for all the long englishclasses i took on the sofa during my last years in school. No subs kinda makes you have too learn:)
    Nice off you too solve the mystery off the lost gravatar images.
    Now i’ve got a photo too.

  8. Brother Henrik says:

    Helo Crys it were not an April fool`s joke or atleast not from my side and i did not even reflect that it were first of april, but im glad that i culd make someone laugh 🙂
    and Johan i must say that i allso think that Simpson and Family guy is a good and entertaining english teacher, my english teacher in school were good i think but the memorycard in my brain were probably quite small so my grade in english were only 2 on a scale 1-5.

    1. Johan Persson says:

      Yes i know what you mean with the memorycard. I let someone install a 1terrabyte card in my brain. It’s great but i think that i’ve catched a virus of some sort or i simply lack RAM memory. Cause when i go to the grocerystore. I seem too forget atleast 2-3 items. And if i dont write a stupid list its nearly impossible too remember more than three specific items. My wife says it’s because im male. Have you ever heard such a stupid statement.

      1. Craig Brown says:

        Hey Johan, I’ve discovered what that implanted tbyte memory card is for: an enhanced SENSE OF HUMOR! Well worth forgetting to buy toothpaste. Do you like your job or does it feel staid (look it up; English lesson)? Because you could make a great living as a stand up comedian. You are seriously funny. Ask Gustav to hold your hand when you completely change your life course.

  9. Brother Henrik says:

    Ive heard about it but i dont beleve it.

  10. Levin says:

    “master hosts … captivating hospitality was simply inescapable. … we ended up hanging around for two days! … we bonded so well ”

    I sense deeper meaning behind the phrasing here … 😉

Most people find commenting quite painless. Go on, try it!

Click to see allowed HTML.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> <ol> <ul> <li>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.