Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tucson, Arizona. 39 degrees (99F). Very hot. Thank goodness for air conditioners.
Flights from Australia were amazingly on time leaving, and 35 minutes early getting into Los Angeles (a fact that the captain reminded us of four times!).
Managed to go the wrong way in the airport and had to go through security again. I had also had my bags searched at Melbourne Airport which at least got me to the front of the check-in queue.
How is it that during the flight they can show 5 movies and I have seen 4 of them? And the one I hadn't seen (Sahara) was on while I was asleep? Also I think they should make it a rule that seat-kickers and snorers be banned on all flights. I always think of a long flight as a lovely opportunity to read, eat and watch movies. I forget about how you are in very close quarters with a lot of people, some of whom are smelly and some of whom cough incessantly.
Arrived safely in Tucson, found the wonderful Meg Files and am now at what I thought were the Untown Suites. Strange way of writing their Is. It's actually Intown, and I am, as you guessed, in town.
Tucson is very spread out and it is miles to anywhere but the roads are wide and it feels very relaxed. I love the cactus (saguaro)- was told they don't start growing arms until they are 80 years old so the big multi-armed ones must be several hundred years old. Before I got here I thought 'cactus - and?' but these are amazing. The vegetation is all amazing. Lots of different cacti and some bright orange flowering bushes. Tucson is flat but surrounded by hills and mountain ranges that change colour during the day.
Today I met a friend whom I originally got to know at Fresno. She was visiting Tucson for the weekend which was a coincidence (she lives near Phoenix) so we had breakfast and spent some time catching up. She dropped me at the bookshop - Reader's Oasis - where I did my reading and book signing this afternoon. Only half a dozen people there but then the Dalai Lama is in town apparently so how could I compete?!!
The reading was good but I realised as I read out different things how many of the words would be a mystery to the listeners so I did periodic translations (gorge is a canyon, had to explain what a flying fox is, and also that chooks are actually hens or chickens!). Sold ten books which was pretty good really.
The problem was that I bought ten!! The bookshop (one of only two independents in Tucson) is going out of business - result mainly of online book buying and B&N/Borders, so they had a sale. How could I resist?
Tucson has lots of Mexican restaurants so I've had one Mexican dinner so far, including a Margarita, with the promise of more to come. The Mexican border is close but I don't know if I will go shopping there - there is too much to see and do here, and I don't have large blocks of time.
No writing done, apart from a poem on the plane, but I have wireless internet in my room which is great.
A busy time ahead. Should be great fun.

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