MAY 23 – Well, this is the first time I’ve ever had any problems with U.S customs. It seems that the female officer had a difficult time believing that I was travelling alone on my motorcycle, so after she drilled me, she led me to a room and told me to sit and wait. It’s a good thing I arrived 2 hours before departure because I sat there for about 20 min before anyone came over. A man comes over and ushers me over to the inspection counter. After screening all my things he begins searching all of my contents and we start to chat about my trip. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and seemed concerned for me. He says; “You know, California can be a dangerous place for a girl travelling by herself, even I wouldn’t do what you’re doing. Be very careful.” I’ve heard that line many times from different people, mostly my parents and never took it seriously. But coming from a customs officer from that area, it was a little off-putting I have to admit. I just feel that a lot of the hype is exaggerated by the media. After all sensationalism is what sells news. Up to this point I’ve travelled over 8,000 km through the states and have not had any trouble with anyone. In fact, I feel that Americans are friendlier than Canadians. I don’t go looking for trouble either, mind you.
Arrived in San Francisco in the evening and headed straight for the hotel to see my bike. The man at the front counter is the manager of the hotel, originally from Cape Town, South Africa. He has encouraged me to look into doing a bike trip in Africa, starting in Cape Town and ending in Cairo. Sounds like quite the ride, definitely check it out. His name is Victor. Not sure if I mentioned this to my Blog readers but I had named my motorcycle ‘Victor’ as well. I thought it made sense because the bike is a Victory, so of course when the manager told me his name a couple of weeks ago, I had to tell him that my bike shared the same name so when I saw him at the front desk this evening, I said; “How are my Victors?” with a big grin he replied, “Very well my dear! Welcome back!” I think he has a bit of a crush on me. First he asks me when I was leaving, and insisted I should stay longer, then at one point he stops me as I walk by the desk, “has anyone ever told you that you have very stunning features?” , I stop in my tracks my hands full of rags from polishing the bike and turn to face him, ” oh, really?” , “yes!” he says. “even on the first day you came in, your face just lit up the whole room.” he said. At this point, I’m sure I am blushing as I was not prepared for that. “Well, thank you, that is very sweet of you to say Victor. But I really have no idea what you’re talking about, but thank you for the compliment” I replied and made a quick retreat to the elevator. And I really didn’t understand what the hell he was talking about. If you call stunning, wearing pyjama pants and hoodie and hair blown all over the place from the 35km winds today aaand a runny nose then I guess I’m guilty. Pffft Silly boys… 😛
I spent the remaining evening, looking my bike over, topped it up with fuel and air in the tires, then took it over to the car wash and washed all the bugs, dirt and dust off of it and once I got back to the hotel, I polished it up. I know it won’t last long but it’s nice to see him all purtied up, even for a little bit and he deserves a little bit of pampering anyways considering all the riding we’ve been doing and all the riding we will be doing… Tomorrow morning I made an appointment at one of the Victory dealerships to get an oil change done, tighten up the belt and check the front brake. Hoping I’ll be Northbound by the afternoon.
One thing I wanted to talk about was good luck charms. Most bikers, if they aren’t already superstitious, they become superstitious. The freedom you feel when you’re riding a bike is difficult to articulate. So is the feeling of vulnerability, because making a mistake or being a part of someone else’s mistake can cost you your life. So, many people have some sort of keepsake and we like to believe that they bring us some form of protection on the road. Call it a false sense of security if you must, I call it positive thinking. I’m a firm believer in the laws of attraction and I’d like to think that good thoughts will manifest into good things and the same goes for the opposite. Almost everyone I met on a bike had a good luck charm of some sorts, from bells to ward off-road demons, key fobs, pictures of loved ones or saints, old ticket stubs, crosses and tattoos. Most say that a charm should be given to you from someone but I don’t agree. I think that if it’s special to you, that’s reason enough.
I carry 3 charms with me. The first one is a Māori pendant that was brought back from New Zealand from a very good friend of mine 9 years ago. It is in the shape of a hook and made of a type a sea shell that gives it this 3 dimensional shine to it. In Māori culture, the fish-hook signifies, prosperity, strength, determination, good health, peace, good luck and safe travels over water. I’m betting that the pendant isn’t smart enough to distinguish land from water so I assume that it will protect me either way.
Now, if charm #1 doesn’t pull through, I have a rubber key chain that is in the shape of a figure eight. The significance with this charm is that depending on which way you hold it, it can become the number 8 or a figure 8 which has become the mathematical symbol for infinity, proposed by the mathematician, John Wallis in 1650. The charm represents two sides; the finite (number) and infinite (figure). In numerology, the number 8 symbolizes getting ahead, taking care of business, common sense and hard work (finite) and in Buddhist culture the Endless Knot (Chang or P’an-Chang) receives and forwards abundance, and is a symbol of longevity, infinity and eternity.
Now, how I came across it is interesting in itself or idiotic it depends on who you ask…. I was in a car accident when I was 18. The seatbelt I had on was faulty and it had enough slack for me to hit the rear view mirror with my face. The impact broke my nose. The doctor tried to straighten it out by giving me anaesthetics, but it was still too painful. So, they had to put me under, re-break my nose and fix it. Prior to the operation I had made plans to meet a friend for a pint at a Pub in downtown Winnipeg, AFTER the operation. I assumed that it would be a simple operation with a little band-aid over the nose. What it ended up being is a mask that covered half my face (if you watch or have watched wrestling and know who ‘mankind’ is, that was my perspective) and they had administered morphine which left me in a drowsy state. So drowsy in fact, if I concentrated on a particular object for too long, I would nod off to sleep. Some of you younger readers might be shocked to know that even back then, the personal use of cell phones were not as common as you might be lead to believe (I didn’t own one till I was 22 which translates to 10 years ago) and the friend I had made plans to meet, didn’t have one either and had already left his house to meet me so I decided to wait for him at the pub. My cousin reluctantly dropped me off and I found a table at a quiet corner and waited for him to arrive. I must’ve looked like a freak (or maybe I blended in, after all, this was downtown Winnipeg), sitting at a table all by myself, with a face mask, occasionally dozing off, trying to fight off the lingering effects of the morphine. The men sitting at the bar must have taken pity on me as one older gent came over and invited me to sit with them. We all swapped broken nose stories and one man showed me that after many years of broken noses from playing soccer, he had no cartilage left in his and could push his nose right up against his face. The same man gave me that key chain. All it really was, was a large o-ring twisted into a figure eight with a smaller o-ring keeping it in place. Nothing to most, but it was a gift intended as a good luck charm and I’ve had it for 14 years now.
And if charm #2 falls short, the 3rd charm I’m sure will pull through. 3rd times a charm right? It was a recent gift by a long time family friend given just before my trip to Nepal. It is a tiny hand sewn pouch, sealed on all sides, about the size of my thumb nail. She believed that the pouch contained a sliver from the original cross Jesus was crucified on. It is a very auspicious item in Greek Orthodox religion. It meant different things to both of us. For her, it was of religious significance. For me it was precious because she wanted me to have it even though it was of high value to her and had been kept in her family for many years.
So, this is what I take with me on my trips. Now, I’m curious as to what everyone else carries with them? Love to hear from you.
*Just wanted to mention that my ‘Quotes’ page has been updated so have a look and if you have any quotes that hit a note with you, please share. Love to hear from you.