Archive for January, 2008
This is the life. Yesterday was an entirely wonderful day. The early start and huge amount of travelling on Monday had the great side-effect of knocking my body-clock out; making me go to bed and wake up earlier. So since I’ve been in Belize, I’ve been getting up at around seven each morning. Good job, really, because it gives me time to wake up and potter about before the full force of the sun kicks in. Yesterday, it meant that I was awake in time to go on a little four hour bird-watching trip. It also meant I would be stepping into a kayak for the first time in my life.
The British couple who are staying here also came along. Malcolm and Cybil (how perfect those names are for a terminal bore and his mousy wife) seem to be worriers. When we arrived at the edge of Joe Taylor Creek where our tour was to begin, George – our smiling, dreadlocked tour guide – gave us the briefest of run-throughs about the kayaks and already Malcolm was fretting. He precariously stepped into a kayak, and virtually the second he’d got his legs in there was worrying and jabbering away about not feeling stable. Ten seconds on the water, and he was asking if he could exchange the single-seater kayak for a sturdier two-seater.
George asks me if I wanted a two-seater, too, but, not wanting to be viewed as the pussy I’d just thought Malcolm was, I laughed it off and said I’d use a single-seater. Gosh, it felt unstable. Wobbling around, my pride was telling me stay in the kayak, my brain was reminding me that I really didn’t want to capsize and lose my glasses. Pride won. And once I stopped trying to keep the kayak stable, it suddenly felt stable. Five minutes later I was having the time of my life. I love those moments in life when you try something for the first time and the steep learning curve takes you from someone who’d never done something before to being someone who felt quite comfortable to be learning on the hoof. Every mistake that sent the kayak into one of the branches that occasionally drooped into the river was a very quick and timely reminder to make smaller adjustments and not approach corners too quickly.
So, we pooter along at a leisurely pace, checking out the mangrove crabs scuttling up and down the branches. George points out some bird in the trees. I nod and go “oh yeah” even though all I can see is a bunch of trees, and he tells us the names of loads of birds, all of which I’ve forgotten, so I’ll make them up: the red-headed blah-thingy; the wotsit kingfisher; the great whatjamacallit; and my favourite, the lesser-spotter dooflip.
Eventually, about three miles up the creek, we stopped near some slimy rocks, and all got out to have a bit of a jungle trek. When I say “all got out” what I mean is George, Malcolm and Cybil got out, and I rocked a bit, slipped, and went arse first into the creek. Thankfully, my camera and wallet were in a Ziploc bag, but I did lose a virtually full pack of cigs, which was a bugger, cos I was gasping for one. The spill, though, made me wary about taking the camera out of its bag while in the kayak, so, sadly, I’ve got no photos of that part of the trip; just some of the jungle.
A bunch of big trees, lots of other trees, and some plants, too. Ooh, there’s an armadillo hole that, weirdly, looks just like any other football-sized hole. More looking at birds in the gaps between thousands of branches and leaves; a hop, skip and jump across a stream; plenty of tedious chatter from Malcolm about thatching processes here, and how they compare to the thatching he’d seen in Malaysia and “Rhodesia”; and we were soon back at the kayaks.
Feeling a bit more confident on the way back, I got up a bit of speed and stopped now and again to actually check out the birds in the mangrove swamp. It was a pretty fine way to spend a morning. And the afternoon was boss, too. Ian, the guy who runs this cottage-y guest house with his dear wife, Kate (sorry to comment-ers who didn’t like my previous description of her!) is also the manager of a butterfly farm that supplies pupae to a place in England. (Coincidentally, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Malcolm and Cybil’s home town: cue about ten minutes of wondering where exactly that was… “Is that the one near The Swan?” etfuckingcetera.)
It was quite a trek in Ian’s pickup truck up to the farm, which is in the hills, up a dirt track, then up a dirtier track, and then up what felt like a bunch of rocks pretending to be a track. The conversation on the way ranged from, oooh, which was the first motor vehicle company to make certain types of engines, to which heavy plant manufacturer had cornered the souther Belize market (Caterpillar, not John Deere); and all other sorts of desperately dull Malcolm-topics; even the logistics of sending pupae from the middle of nowhere in Belize to Warwickshire got compared to sending industrial parts to Singapore.
Once we got to the top of a hill, the view was quite splendid. Jungle all around, and some lovely flowers.
A brief walk down some steps and we were at the farm. Lots of wooden huts with shelves of eggs and larvae, all meticulously labelled, and wood and wire-mesh structures housing thousands of stunning butterflies.
This is Malcolm
And this is me
It was a joy to be in amongst them all. Having them land on my hand, and watching them up close as they stuck out their proboscises to suck the minerals from my sweat. One of the lady butterflies – the flirty bitch – even landed on my crotch and laid three eggs there. I imagine even Prince at the height of his leather-underpants perv phase didn’t have this happen to him.
On the way back, we had to stop off at the airstrip to book Malcolm and Cybil’s flight (they’ve gone now… woo!). As I waited outside, there were four Mennonites stood around waiting for something. Not seen any of these folks before. The young men had chin-strap beards; the women long floral print dresses and little black hats. One of the couples were holding hands, which, to some of the more hardcore Mennonite factions, is virtually the equivalent of being in a “Girls Gone Wild” video.
The couple of miles from the airstrip back to the cottage, I rode in the back of the pickup truck, sat there in the open air, watching the streets disappear. Not sure I’d want to do it every day, but for those couple of miles, it was a relaxing and beautiful thing to be doing as the dusk came down.
In the evening I cycled the streetlight-less track into town, with a headlamp strapped to my bonce, making quick desperate moves as potholes came into view; the light occasionally picking out the flash of a hawk’s eye as they sat in the grass searching for food.
It was a long day. And I was in bed by 9.30. And I slept like a log.
The photos that should have accompanied the previous post about my journey from there to here had I not been too lazy to sort them out.
My brief moment in the United States: smoking and looking at the trees outside Miami International Airport.
Somewhere in the north of Belize.
Yes he is.
The Tropic Air plane.
Ex-servicemen Road, Punta Gorda. This is the road to the cottages where I’m staying, and a lovely place for a leisurely cycle.
And finally, two shots of the Caribbean Sea.
The Guardian do a nice little review of this web log. Seems like someone has been reading Anne’s blog. Thanks to John for scanning it for me.
With all the potential for disaster – three flights, three different airlines – yesterday’s travelling went exceedingly smoothly.
I was on a lovely empty Mexicana flight to Miami, with some splendid views of Mexico and the Florida Keys. Immigration at Miami was fucking tedious, though. We all know that Immigration in the U.S. has a bad reputation, but every time I’ve flown to New York, it’s been fine. This, though, was my second shitty experience of Floridian Immigration. Slow, very suspicious, not a jot of humanity in the eyes. Probably didn’t help that every foreigner I was on a plane with was a potential illegal immigrant in their eyes. All that hassle (an hour queueing) just to go to a different part of the airport to get another flight. Once through security – and the pouncing from the customs lady who saw that I had no luggage – I took advantage of being in the States by going outside and smoking in Miami, and listening to the Miami Vice theme on the iPod.
Another fantastically empty flight to Belize City; again a whole row of American Airlines seats to myself. We flew around the north-western and western edge of Cuba. Not sure if that’s an airspace issue, ’cause it does look on a map to be a tad shorter to fly over Cuba. Looks, from the air, like a nice part of the world. And then we’re descending over the northern bit of Belize, and coming in to land at Belize City airport.
Belize City airport is small and functional. A big change from Miami International Airport. Immigration had three guys sat at big wooden desks. I got the feeling that the officer – a kind-faced, gum-chewing, black guy – was imitating harsher immigration officers in other countries; he seemed to let it slip at the end when, after stamping my passport, he smiled, and with genuine friendliness said, “Have a nice time in Belize, man.”
I had an hour to kill before my next flight, so I went outside to smoke. Jesus is Lord. So says big black letters on a building that’s right there outside. Not so sure about that, but the heat was mighty fine. Late afternoon Central American sunshine cooking my skin. I asked a taxi driver who was leaning against wall if U.S. dollars were acceptable everywhere in Belize. Yes, they are. And we stood chatting for the length of my cigarette: he used to work for the British army when they were here; the government is rubbish; the heat is great; he loves the Queen (“she’s my Queen now, and she’ll be my Queen until my eyes close”); and, again, I was wished a nice time in Belize, man.
Back into another departure lounge, back through another security check. Shoes off, no water bottles. And a small room with a handful of gift shops (highlight: t-shirts with Un-Belize-able written on them). Aside from the odd few people like me, obviously backpackers, it was mainly middle-aged Americans either on their way to or from a sunshine holiday. Outside the lounge were a couple of decent-sized planes (American Airlines and Continental), and a bunch of tiny planes. Come time to get my flight, I and seven other people were walked over to one of the smaller Tropic Air planes.
It was my first time on a plane so small. There were no seating numbers, you just sit where you can. Once we were all in, the pilot sped around onto the runway and we were off. Flying fairly low over the jungles of Belize. I got chatting to Ken, a middle-aged landscape architect from Seattle, who was sat all of 18 inches away across the aisle. I’d seen him in the departure lounge and chuckled to myself at the gleaming white New Balance trainers (the sort of trainers only middle-aged people buy), and high-waisted, elasticated, khaki trousers holding in one of those strangely American big man butts. But we got chatting, and like most Americans when you talk to them, was an exceedingly nice chap. We had exactly the same model of Casio watch; a watch that only a man would be tempted to buy; with its altimeter, compass, and barometer (were were flying 500 metres above sea level, fact fans). Perhaps dazzling New Balance trainers and high-waisted, elasticated, khaki trousers are the inevitable next step for me, too.
The plane stopped at three places on the trip down to Punta Gorda. Each time swooping down, rumbling along the runway to a handful of men who’d open the door, grab the bags, and ensure that the plane was back in the air within a couple of minutes. The sun was setting over the hills of Guatemala by the time I was coming in to land at Punta Gorda, (he says, rather wankily like a tanned-to-leather holiday-programme host; Judith Chalmers comes to mind). And the vagina-owning half of the couple that runs Hickatee Cottages where I’m staying was there to give me a lift in her pick-up truck.
I guess this is what travelling is all about: being thrust into a place where you’re with people you wouldn’t normally mix with. After dumping my stuff in my room, I went to the bar/restaurant-y bit of the cottage site and said hello to the two couples there. Both couples were virtually retirement age; one British, one American. The Brits seem nice enough. A meek-ish lady wife with very thick lenses in her glasses who was probably quite the looker in her day, and her slightly-dull-but-ultimately-a-good-human-being of a husband (I’m currently sat on the verandah of the bar area, and he’s wondering to his wife what wavelength the bulbs are). They are from Stratford-upon-Avon. First thing he told me was how a bus ride had played havoc with his back, and how trying to cut through bamboo was difficult, cos it’s “as tough as old boots.” The Americans were as open and as friendly as usual. Jewish, he manages a synagogue in Maryland, and she is some sort of counselling mediator for couples who are getting divorced. I immediately got on with the Jews. He had a beard. Beards tends to make me like people more. Especially the woman. Boom-tish!
As dinner was being prepared, another pair of Americans arrived. This time they were Coloradans who own property here. The guy was the big booming, something-to-say-about-everything kind of husband. Again, though, nice guy. He’s building a “planned community” here. He invited us all to come see how it’s coming along. I wonder if he really meant it. I wondered, too, what it’d be like. What sort of impact a planned community with 130 units and a marina for 50 boats would have on a small town like this, especially if, as he’s hoping, it’ll be full of rich baby boomers.
After a very good night’s sleep, listening to the insects doing their insect-y noises, I had coffee and toast, and then used one of the available bicycles at the cottages. It was one of those nice curvy 1950s-ish ones. Rucksack on, baseball cap on, headphones on, and I’m feeling like a teenager in The O.C. or something. And it was so lovely and hot. Mmmm, my skin felt niiiiiice. And, for the first time in ages, I was relaxed. I took my time in choosing something nice to listen to whilst cycling down the one mile dirt track into Punta Gorda, and my choice of David Gilmour’s most recent solo album was perfect (I later listened to Radiohead’s last album and “Ill Communcation” and they both sounded marvellous, so it must just be cycling in the heat).
Punta Gorda is small. It’s shabby, it’s a bit dirty like sunny places can be; but it’s great. If you want well-trimmed lawns and “nice” houses, you probably wouldn’t like it. Homes seem to be wood or breeze blocks. Very few of the homes here have windows. Mostly wood shutters. But it seems nice. There’s a nice feeling in the town. The people seem incredibly friendly, virtually everyone I cycled past said hello, nodded or waved. A macaw flew past me, herons stood motionless by the sea, and for about five seconds a beautiful butterfly flew in front of me, like a passenger attached to the crossbar of the bicycle.
I came across a sign for Bob’s planned community, so I followed the road and had a look. His wife showed
me around, glowing at the potential for the site. And, certainly, it will be impressive, but I can’t help feeling it’ll be horrendous, too. I asked if it’d be okay to swim there, and she told me it would, so I nipped back to the cottage, grabbed my shorts, and after some rice, beans and curried chicken in town – and 20 minutes of cycling around just to work it off a bit – went back. She or Bob weren’t there, so I spoke to Lloyd, a big, smiling fellow who was one of their staff. I asked again, out of politeness, if it was okay to swim here, and he told me that “the beach belongs to everyone” and that I should go and enjoy myself.
There’s only about two metres of beach, but the Caribbean water was lovely. Skegness can keep its bracing weather; this warm water’s where it’s at, daddio. Even if I do imagine that my pale English skin does look like a bar of Dove soap with a beard on top.
So, this evening, there are new people in the bar here. A huge middle-aged fella, and a young lass, who’s quite foxy. I initially thought, “aaah, someone my age!” But, of course, I’m no longer a teenager, so she’s not my age, and, in fact, I’d probably be considered some sort of paedophile were my lewd thoughts to continue beyond “she’s quite foxy.” Still, the lass might be fat guy’s child bride rather than his daughter. I’ve not seen a Mrs. Fat Guy yet, so you never know.
Anyway, it’s nearly time for dinner, so photos can wait ’til tomorrow.
Two chaps trying to recreate the Mexican flag. I think they are brothers. The green brother may have a tooth missing, but he’s got a bigger penis.
It’s a travel day today. Had to get up devilishly early to get to the airport, where I’m currently waiting for a flight to Belize City, via – rather inconveniently – Miami. Got a full twelve hours of aeroplanes and airports ahead of me before I arrive in Punta Gorda.
No idea what the Internet connection is like down there, so we’ll have to wait and see when the next update will be.
I contributed a little something to FAQ Magazine; a nice online thingy that each issue has a theme based on FAQ-style questions. The theme this time is “What’s the meaning of life?”
Fairly tough question to answer. What I thought, though, was that it’s kind of a good idea to not ignore the real shitty stuff that humans do; but also not to forget that humans can do things that make us happy, too.
Anyway, the issue is online now, and there’s plenty of other cool stuff on there too, so maybe you might enjoy popping along for a little visit.
A couple of fairly lazy days. Still a bit beat from being ill earlier in the week. Done a little bit of walking around, drinking coffees in local cafes and reading (feels slightly odd to be reading something as English as P.G. Wodehouse in Mexico). Went to a fancy castle and the modern art museum. Endured a lack of electricity during a thunder storm, and practiced my stuttering Spanish skills when trying to buy trousers and sunscreen.
Most of all, though, I’ve been feeling homesick. It’s something I’ve never ever felt before. Previous holidays have always left me wanting more, and hating going home. But this time, I keep thinking about Berlin. It’s eight weeks since I left, and if I had the chance to fly back tomorrow, I’d be very tempted. But my pride and ego will stop me going back sooner than I’d planned. Although my return-to-Europe flight date of 11th July does seem so very far away.
Each passing day, I miss Billy more and more. And each passing day, I worry that he’ll forget who I am by the time I get back. It really kicked me yesterday when I stopped in front of a pet store with some pretty puppies in cages in the window. I just wanna be back there with the little fella, walking around Mauerpark in the wind and rain.
Still, I’m not complaining. I know I’m lucky to be in Mexico right now, and in three weeks I’ll have visited three countries that I’ve never been to before. And, of course, I’ve got a long long time to go on this adventure; maybe I won’t be homesick for Berlin.
Seems weird, though, that it takes being half a world away to make me appreciate the old place.
I booked the next steps of my adventure last night. I was so excited I couldn’t get to sleep til 4.30ish this morning.
Next week I’ll be heading off to southern Belize to a little town called Punta Gorda, to sweat it out in the tropical jungle. A week later, I’ll be off to Panama City for a week; then on to São Paulo.
That’s about the next four weeks or so sorted. Anyone who’s been to Panama City, and has any tips – a decent-but-cheap place to stay, sights to see, things to do – it’d be great to hear them.
CNN (whichever international version that is on in my hotel room) couldn’t even get the poor guy’s nationality right.
I woke up yesterday morning with that wet-tissue-ish skin on my lips; the bits of skin that have peeled off, that indicate you’re ill. Nothing major, just a bit of a cold, I suspect. But I spent the whole day in bed. My muscles ached, I had that constant pain across my forehead and eyes, and I had a bit of a fever. I lay there with the remote control in my hand, flicking through the channels.
I watched one half of Fiorentina v Torino. I watched a Fox Sports “news” show that rounded up all the relevant football action from Mexico, Argentina, Spain, England, and Italy; some tennis stuff; and the latest couple of NFL play-offs. I watched an episode of “Friends” with Spanish subtitles which helped me understand a few new words.
I watched something that smelled like an MTV show, although it was on a different channel here, called Miami Ink (this may be a popular well-known show for all I know, but as someone who rarely watched TV in Berlin, I have no idea). This was one of those new types of documentaries that seem to be have become all the rage in the last ten years or so. A bunch of tattooed people tattooing other people, each of whom came into the shop with some crappy piece of reference material (Old English typefaces, hotrods, band logos, pictures of flowers), and each of whom has some deep reason for wanting the tattoo, which we’re supposed to care about. One guy wanted Saint Michael on his arm, because his name was Michael too, and he wanted it to remind him that he’d beaten cancer as a child so, by looking at the tattoo, he’d remember he could overcome any problem. I don’t know about you, but if I’d had cancer and overcome it, I wouldn’t need a tattoo to remind me: Oh damn, it looks like I might lose my job, I dunno how I will cope… if only there was something in my past that I could look to to gain strength from… there was something… when I was younger… what the heck was it?… aaah, thank you tattoo-on-my-shoulder, now I remember! It was cancer!
And I saw about half a dubbed-into-Spanish episode of “The A-Team” (“Brigada A” en Español) which I don’t remember seeing as a kid. They seemed to be in Germany, and B.A. was in the U.S. team playing American football against an East German team. Guess who scored the winning touchdown in the final seconds of the game. Hannibal was sat around in the stands with some military-looking dudes. Murdoch was off somewhere else doing something or other, and I only saw Face at the end with some fraulein on a motorbike, when the chaps all escaped in a helicopter under a hail of gunfire. How strange it all seems now, nearly 20 years on from the end of the GDR, that such we-beat-the-Commies stuff was on TV. I wonder if there’d be a similar A-Team episode now if it was still on, just with Iran instead of East Germany. Probably.
Mostly, though, I sweated and groaned my way through the day and night; and today I checked into a hotel to allow myself to recover without getting in the way of my gracious host. I still feel like turd but can’t bear to be just lying in bed any more, it’s driving me a bit mental, especially considering there’s a big chunk of Mexican-ness outside the window. But, I suppose I’ll get better quicker if I do confine myself to the hotel room. Plus there’s a steam bath in this hotel, which might help; and I’ve never done one of those before, so maybe I should give it a go.
Twenty one and a half years ago at the Estadio Azteca, as all Argentina fans, England fans, and football fans in general will remember, Diego Maradona scored two goals – one a slight of hand, the other pure magic – to knock England out of the World Cup on his way to lifting the trophy. Despite all the great things he did during his career, it’s probably those two goals that will be his most-remembered. On Sunday, I was sat in the same stadium.
And it’s fucking huge. It’s the fourth largest stadium in the world (behind one in North Korea, and two in India), with a capacity of over 114,000 – more than the entire population of my hometown. I was there to see Club América‘s home match against Puebla; but really I was there to see the stadium, and to – rather dorkily – see the pitch where Maradona did what he did.
We didn’t have tickets before the game, and once we got there, the queue for the ticket booth(s) was enormous. You’ve gotta be looking at a couple of thousand people snaking around the merchandise and food stalls outside the stadium. So we bought tickets off a tout for 100 pesos: double the face value, but still only about five of the Queen’s pounds sterling.
The game itself wasn’t spectacular; it ended 0-0. América were fortunate that Puebla couldn’t put away any of the many chances they had. Still, dull game or not, that’s not why I was there: I was there simply to see what it’s like to be at a non-European football game.
It was fun, and – for an English chap who’s last time inside a football stadium was in December, freezing my nuts off watching Lincoln City and Darlington hoof it around for 90 minutes – it was magnificent to see the hardcore América fans waving flags, banging drums, singing, and jumping up and down from start to finish.
But, I still have the task of choosing a Mexican team to nominally support. América were, well, okay; most of the people I’ve met here are Pumas fans; but I’m tempted by Cruz Azul, simply because I’m a fruity aesthete, and I like their shirt the most.
Just playing around, seeing what happens. Ten new Ohne Titel drawings. Should you be interested, these newer ones, with the more uneven colours, are drawn in Photoshop with the overlay mode switched on when using the brush tool. They were done using both the mouse (as everything is usually drawn) and the laptop’s trackpad, which was a right pain in the arse to draw with, but kind of interesting all the same. I think a couple of subconscious influences have crept in to this batch of drawings: the masks of luchadores, and the shape of the back of the passenger seats in taxis here; something I’ve looked at for quite a substantial amount of time in the last week or so.
The influence of lucha libre isn’t so subconscious in this one:
My previous experience of lucha libre was two years ago in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, down in the south of Mexico. It was a small affair. Not more than a thousand people there watching. Last night, at the Arena México here in Mexico City was a different affair altogether. A big arena holding around 10,000 I’d guess. And it was a lot more showbiz, with big screens above the wrestling ring, some exceeeeeeeeeedingly hot lasses in bikinis stood around doing whatever needed to be done – holding up signs, accompanying luchadores to the ring, just standing around with their breasts smiling at the ever-present camera. Sadly, my camera was confiscated at the entrance, so I have no photos of the wrestling action (or the lasses). We were treated to plenty of wrestling action too. The bad guy tag teams won a few, the good guys won a few. It was all very gymnastic and a heck of a lot of fun; even though it boggles my mind that so many people do seem to genuinely think these contests are real. I even managed to ask someone where the toilet was in Spanish, which was as much as I’ve ever spoke.
And what better way to follow up watching glistening men grapple with each other than to go to a hi-energy club? Now, I’m no clubber, and it’s many a year since I’ve been in any kind of nightclub, but I’ve never ever been in a club like this before. Again sadly, camera confiscation happened before I went in so, once more, no photos. It was called Patrick Miller, modestly named after the dude who DJs and runs the place, and was a very bizarre mix of people. It was like being in a nightclub scene in a German movie from the mid-eighties, with random Mexican blokes chosen to be extras dancing in the background. From what I could tell on the basis of an hour or so in the place, there are a fair few in-the-closet gay Mexicans, who dress like they’ve just got off their taxi shift, but gaze lovingly at the fancy dancing younger dudes. And the urinal trough was full of ice cubes, which was a nice touch.
Doubling my number of nightclub visits from the previous decade in one night, the next stop was some place that I forget the name of, but might be called Rocket if the stamp on my hand is any indication. This place was fairly different from Patrick Miller. It was right next to the big angel statue which seems to be the city’s most recognisible landmark. An elevator that holds two people, plus the lift operator (a woman who, being charitable, was mid-fifties, and wore a velvety jacket and a black Ken Dodd-ish wig), creaks up to the fifth floor, as the thud-thud-thud of early Daft Punk-ish music gets louder. It was full of beautiful, beautiful women, and men sporting (possibly ironic) moustaches. It was a fog of dry ice, cigarette smoke (jealous, British smokers?), and arms being waved in the air quite possibly like they just don’t care. Needless to say, I felt terribly out-of-place.
Then taxi, tacos, toilet, toothpaste, and I can’t think of a way to write “going to sleep” that begins with T, thus ruining my alliterative closing sentence.
Last night I went to see some lucha libre. The most popular wrestler of the night was called Dr Wagner.
I looked for a photo on Google Images. There are lots of Dr Wagners, but can you guess which one is the Dr Wagner?
Surely it’s only a matter of time before this brand becomes an Underworld song title.
On Motolinia in the Centro Histórico area of Mexico City, there’s a nightclub run by a very nice guy called Ricardo, who also runs a gallery space around the corner called Pasagüero where I’ll be having an exhibition in April. While he and other Mexicans talked amongst themselves in Spanish, I slinked off to the nightclub’s balcony to take some pictures…