Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What ever became of Minimonk?

Day 37 & on.

We all woke from behind The Lyon's House Hostel

& as we were walking out, Steve & Patrick called out to us from their balcony, asking whether we were coming or going.
When we told them going & went on to explain our situation, they would have none of us leaving, inviting us in, giving us breakfast & cheerful conversation & condolences.

They told me I was welcome to stay as long as it took me to get my feet on the ground & told Paul & Nate they were welcome to stay on too if the need arose. But there was no need, so
Paul & Nate were forced to continue the journey without me & left with tearful goodbyes, by foot.

I was all alone in Canada with no foreseeable way to get out.

I wandered about for a few moments, like a lost boy at a shopping mall, before returning to the hostel. It was time to get to work.

I spent two days on the internet, courtesy of Lyons House Hostel, (http://www.allcanbb.com/) which provides its patrons...and one particular hangers oner… free internet.

(God I love this photo. Computer time without exercise or much sleep does my eyes wonders. I don't know why I don't do it more often. Probably because I'd have to beat women off with a stick due to my attractive puffy eyedness & that's most unbecoming for a monk.)

Patrick, a giant of a man with a heart to match, has seen the world & understands well the concept of a man needing his pride. He also understands New Zealand culture, having lived & managed timber yards there. Being a man of honour, Patrick casually mentioned that he was looking at renovating & allowed me grab the opportunity to take up some of the work, helping out both as means of thanking him for being so hospitable & as a way of paying my way, thus avoiding the stigma of freeloading, & retaining some semblance of pride.

So for those of you wondering what Minimonk has been doing while Paul was forced to leave me behind & continue on to New York, here is your answer.

I was pulling up carpet,

Scraping floors,

Patching floors,

Painting,

Laying tiles,

Inventing & creating brackets,

Hanging mirrors,

and meeting other back packers.

Richard, from England, a particularly onto it guest at The Lyons House Hostel, worked some magic – I’m still undecided as to whether it was voodoo, or he was an angel, but either way, he found me a flight out of Canada into London for $49 plus tax. Un-heard of. Bloody legend Richard! Thanks once again.

We went to the pub to celebrate, met other Kiwis, ...and Richard wouldn’t let me touch the tab.

Good people are not only in the USA it seems.

My lovely vice, with best friend Rachel in tow, came all the way to Niagara when she head of the dramas, to deliver her condolences personally.

I put on an all new robe & we went exploring.Patrick not only housed us, entertained us with Backpacker TV (Words won't do it justice. You'll have to go to Lyons House Hostel to experience it for yourself) but also generously provided dinner & a trip on the Maid of the Mist, to get a real close up feel of the 600,000 bathtubs per second falling from the cliffs above. As I said, America doesn't have dibs on all the good people.

Niagara Falls are incredible, but the city offers so much more than just the cascading water.

We put on newer still robes & played in jet boats in Northern America’s largest whirlpool,

We ate out

Visited one of Canada’s quaintest towns, Lewiston – though were just a little too late to enjoy the free wine tasting, including Ice Wine, along the way

And just hung out & had a laugh in this zoo, carnival land of Niagara Falls.






(I'm standing in a hole.)

It was tough watching the girls leave

But again, Patrick from the Lyon’s House Hostel took care of me, providing dinner & beer & a queen sized room to sprawl out in, despite pressing demands by paying clients.

Being stuck in Canada was tough, as you can see. Darn you Boarder Control!!

But all too soon it was time to leave & once again Patrick hooked me up, suggesting to Jessica & Virilina from Germany that they take a monk with them to Toronto. They readily agreed & we made the trip in no time, the girls dropping me directly at the airport- cheers girls! I sat & waited on my flight for the following 12 hours,

And now I’m in London with my sister Sarah.Hampton Court Pallace.

(No, that's not her. No photo of her I'm afraid. She's a little camera shy. You'll just have to believe me. As for the look on my face... take a closer look.)

Looking forward to the next adventure, whatever than may be!

Thanks for following us & taking the time to read the madness. We really appreciate all the support, be that financial, emotional, spiritual or physical.
The world is full of good people. :)

Until next time!

Tim & Paul.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Finished!

Even know Tim did not make it to the finish line he was there in spirt. I went to NYC for a few hours and then took a bus to Boston. We were going to finish in NYC but we got a really cheap bus ticket to NYC and since we only had $60 left to our name we decided to buy the ticket to NYC (an angel at the buffalo greyhound gave us a cheap ticket).

I will be filming a little bit of footage in Boston, but I'm going to take a few days off too. On the 17th I will be heading to NYC to film some more footage for the videos Tim and I have been working on. We will be putting some really fun videos up soon and then we will realese the documentary of the trip. This trip has changed the way I look at America and I can't wait to share it with you all. I'm so glad that I will be able to give the whole film away for free too!

Tim is doing well and we are planning on doing a world trip together. So the monks will be back together soon. Thanks for all your support and for taking the time to check out our blog. By the end of the week we will start posting again. Lots of videos coming :)

Love you guys,

Paul

Also I wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU to MIXX.com they sponsored us and gave us much needed funding! Make sure to visit Mixx.com to get breaking news and other awesome stories.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 36. Niagara

Day 36. 10th.

We arrived in Niagara Falls New York in a pretty worse for wear state. Not much, if any sleep on the greyhound.
We got a few pictures
& a bit of video footage, then Paul, who only had his drivers licence so didn’t think he’d get into Canada, offered to stay with the bags while Nate & I headed across for more photos & views from the Canadian side. (A far better view of the falls.)
We told him we’d have breakfast when we got back.
Little did we know.
We admired the scenery, got a few snaps,


then headed back to pinch our bags, then wake Paul & document his reacting, feed, water & sleep. However, at US customs we heard the dreaded words. ‘Take a seat’.
We sat for about an hour, maybe more, before Nate, a US citizen, had had enough & told customs he was going through to let Paul know what was going on. We expected I’d follow just minutes later.
About half an hour later I was ushered through to the lower levels of interrogation.
To be completely honest, the woman interrogating me was pretty nice. Unlike her male counterparts, she didn’t make me feel like I’d just raped her daughter.
She also gave me a cup of water & when I told her I was a bit vague in the head due to no sleep or food since yesterday, she got me a magic meal. (It was pasta & chicken in a packet, you added liquid to another packet, dropped the first packet inside the now wet packet & then put those packets into another cardboard packet & let the chemical reaction do the cooking. She assured me it wouldn’t give me cancer.)

(Paul, please insert fantastic customs photo here)
However, I was handed a notice stating that that although I’d been allowed into the States in 2001, just weeks after 9/11, when my visa was expired (unbeknownst to me) & despite the fact that I flew out just 3 days later, I was deemed as an over-stayer & couldn’t be allowed re-entry now.

All I had with me was my laptop & camera. All my other belongings were in my pack with Paul. None the less, I was to be exported & Canada would take care of me.
So, with no money, no flight out, no way of making money, eating or legally getting lodging, I was marched out of customs like the menace I was.
Good bye USA.
Canada wasn’t super stoked to receive me & it turned out they weren’t at all able to get me food, lodging or assistance to fly out. The American Authorities had deceived me?! They were, however, able to take all my details, finger prints & photos.
They gave me a bond allowing me two weeks to get myself sorted & out of the country. I’m still trying to fathom why they were able to do that when I had no money or means of leaving, but the US wasn’t, despite being able to track me on line & my having a guaranteed flight out of New York.
My conclusion is to wear GAP clothing when next going through a boarder to the US. It was my own silly fault.
Finally the boys managed to catch up with me & it turns out, they had been attempting to bring me food, my pack & phone numbers all afternoon, but the US hadn’t passed any of it on, despite their claims to do so. The US authorities deceived them too?!
With my bags & a discretion-capable immigration officer allowing Paul into Canada, we de-robed & went exploring my new home.
A natural wonder like Niagara falls gives the impression of being in a natural wonderland. The actuality could not be more far from the truth.
Niagara Falls on the Canadian side is nothing short of a carnival. It has rides, horror houses, wax museums & over priced ice cream stalls. Bright lights flash & music & advertisements boom out into the well lit streets.
We wandered about looking for wireless, eventually winding up at the casino.
Once done there, the boys figured that the staff at the US boarder would have changed &, being the good loyal buggers they are, watching my back, they went to find an officer who would perhaps be a little more discerning & gracious, despite the obvious odds they were facing.
The quote they received pretty well says it all.
“He’s from New Zealand. We don’t care about him.”
Discouraged, but always coming up with new ideas to make the trip, with just 3 days left, work, we went in search of a squat.
Perhaps I could swim the river? Maybe I could get in on Nate’s passport? Could I climb the bridge arch? Could I win millions & bribe the guards? Could we slingshot me over with a giant rubber band?
We found a closed hostel, sat on its steps & ate a bite,
then set up tent & crashed out in its parking lot, all of us exhausted from too many hours awake & too much stimulation.

Day 35. Leaving Elkhart

Day 35. 9th

We began the day with our chores,

then for the most part, today was spent sitting in the same hitch spot, talking garbage & laughing at the expressions of the faces that passed us by.

At one point, we tried jumping into a pair of pants, just for the entertainment of it.






Three cars pulled over, but all were going west, instead of east.

At around 3pm we decided to be proactive in getting ourselves out of Elkhart & went to the travel information centre.
Here we were given the greyhound information & also some church contact details to try for assistance.

The first number we called was Church Community Services, an organisation that ‘makes God’s love visible & relevant for all people.’ They are ‘God’s hands in the community.’ They help the locals with food, mentors, finances & volunteer services. Quite the organisation! They listened to what we were doing & agreed, although our situation was outside their usual jurisdiction being that we were no part of their community, to give us a Greyhound ticket to Niagara.

We had almost enough cash for one ticket & had just been given another. We were just short one ticket for escape.

We walked to Greyhound to see what we could discover. We discovered they were closing shortly, but that a driver would take cash & ID & then allow us to purchase a ticket in the next big town.

Dean from CCS came down & not only bought us a ticket, but also gave us a bag of food & cash from Ted, the ‘rent-a-priest' who worked with him & then more cash again from himself. Ted had left the priesthood for love, going on to marry his love & now did God’s work outside the church at CCS & performed marriages when people rented him.

It was at the greyhound that we understood the hold up.

We met a bunch of people here who had all kinds of interesting things to say,

including Bryant, a legend of a man, who come documentary time, is one you’ll want to look out for.

He had all kinds of profound wisdom on division used through the media inspired by fear & how it’s keeping us all from our powerful, united potential.

We talked for hours about people, God, religion, spirituality & life, as we waited on the bus & while Paul worked his magic to get another bus ticket.

He ended up calling his professor in San Fran, Erik Kieser (http://www.erikcomm.com/)

who willingly paid the extra bus fare to get us to Niagara if Paul got a tatoo.
Done. With true monkly valour.

He figured it was only fair to honour our amazing PA, Pam.

And that was how we came to be spending the night on board another Greyhound Bus, whisked far far away from South Bend and Elkhorn & their toll road entrances & polite, zealous police officers & friendly Christian organisations & interesting local bus catchers.

I wonder if we’ll be missed?

Day 34. Escaping South Bend

Day 34. 8th July

We woke this morning to pouring rain. It always sounds more impressive when beating down on thin stretched nylon just inches from your face, but to be fair, I think even on a tiled roof, this rain would have created a little disturbance.

We waited for it to ease, then got up, packed like the Gestapo were on our trail & made our way straight to Dennies, to seek shelter & sustenance, just as the puckering of the clouds was beginning to quiver.

Thanks to Randy’s generosity, we were able to begin today with eggy nourishment & meet a few of the local heros.

Our waiter Jodie, quite the local hero, cautioned us about hitch hiking, telling us of his own desires to travel Europe. However before he got a chance to go, saw the movie ‘Hitch hiker’ & has since changed his plans. Horror movies. God bless them. What are they good for, other than maintaining a complacent society, ever wishing for more, but too scared to step out & attain it.

I have a small ritual of collecting post cards from the towns we visit. The gas station didn’t sell them, but suggested Notre Dame book store would.

We set up at the roadside, and then I set off running, my robe flowing behind me.

Just meters down the humid road, a car pulled up & a priest asked me what I was running from. I told him the police & he told me to climb in & he’d take me where I was headed. Along the way, as I stunk out his car, I told this charitable man of the cloth what we were about. He doesn’t get on the net, but sent me & Jesus on our way with his blessing.

Again I was stunned by the campus of Notre Dame. (I wish I'd taken my camera on the run.) Struggling to find my way back meant that I got to see a lot of it. Forests, lakes, fields, golf courses & a myriad of new buildings, built like they’ve been around forever.

Finally, after getting caught up helping a truck driver who'd lost his load reload, I found the highway again, my compulsory morning run totalling a good few miles. The boys told me they’d had to forfeit a ride waiting for me, but I think that’s bollix.

We stood in the same spot for hours more & no one else pulled over.
I shouldn’t say no one. The local police came by.

Not too much later, Paul & I headed out to get a bite from the gas station. Paul stepped in to Perkins & told Ashley there what we were doing & she gave us free cake to go with our loaf of bread.

I know I’m no oil painting, but the fact that when we got back, Nate had had two rides pull over made me question the dissuasion of my presence.
It wasn’t until Paul went to put trash in the can & the next ride pulled up that my fears were allayed.

Tony, an older gentleman, loved history. As far as I could hear, his great great grandfather was born in Indiana & he knew all there was to know about it. It was a shame we had used up any exploring time being stuck.

Once again we were standing at a toll booth.

And once again the Police stopped in to check on our progress.

Twice.

Nate & Paul wondered if perhaps the Mayor was preparing a cab to take us to the next town, stating we could do what ever we were doing elsewhere, but we’d over stayed our welcome in their town. But the police in Indiana, while extremely thorough, were kind enough & were just giving us warning, that should we move past the toll booth, they would be forced to take us into custody.

We were grateful the first officer of South Bend wasn’t so easily forced.

After another few hours of smiles, waves, avoided looks & scowls, we decided to pack it in for the night & try again early in the morning.

Steve at Steak & Shake gave us a free meal when he heard what we were doing

& the Knights Inn motel next door looked inviting too.

Priti bargained with us on price, while the beautiful & tender hearted Melinda, after trying to get us a room free, convinced her to give us a discount room, on the proviso we clean it.

The shower, shave & wine that followed were shear bliss. J

(When Anna saw me, she referred to me as her little Holocausts survivor. I didn't realise just how thin I'd got until I saw this picture. Anyone need a diet? This is a fun & scenic way to do it.)

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We are praying that QIK sponsors us!
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