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Just about a week after getting home from Cuba and I’m on the road / in the sky again, this time on my own.

Once again, Peter was so kind as to drive me to Heathrow and usually I then add the travelling day’s Diary page by reporting that the journey was uneventful, but not this time…..

Remember, the audience for these pages also includes friends who have not the faintest interest in cacti. But most of all, I write these notes for myself so that years later I can check what happened when, where and with whom.

First item worth reporting was at Heathrow, T1. As the queue was snaking its way to the security X-ray machines I suddenly found myself face to face with someone I thought I recognised from the past. It was like dawn breaking as both our faces seemed to show the same reaction. ‘Charles?!?’ ‘Paul?!?’ Then laughter and shaking of hands as the others in the queue watched in bemusement as we renewed our friendship that was put on hold when I left the company we both worked for, in 1988, 22 years ago! Once we cleared security we shared a coffee before we went on our way again, Charles on to his skiing holiday – French Alps if I remember correctly and me on my last leg of this winter’s cactus trip(s).

Next item worth reporting: Arrival at LAX. Where was Eunice? No idea. So let’s call her mobile. Great idea, but it would have helped if I had remembered to bring her number. Never mind, she had mine and surely would soon call or text me to explain what had happened and what to do next. An hour later. Nothing. My flight ticket had not indicated at which of the nine terminals and we had assumed that I would arrive at the same terminal that I would leave from next month, T7. So where was I? At the International Flight arrival centre, somewhere between T3 and T4. Ah.

I figured that Eunice was trying to find me, so the best strategy seemed to stay put, rather than miss each other while we were both on the move.    Another hour later, still nothing. So Plan B seemed appropriate. What Plan B? I had her home address, so got a taxi. I worried that there would be nobody home when I got there, but no need. A very surprised Eunice opened the door. She had assumed that with a 10 hour flight, I would arrive tomorrow, a day after leaving the UK, but of course, as I was flying in the same direction ‘as the sun was travelling’, I actually landed some two hours after departing, but Pacific Time, rather than GMT. Never mind.

Last item worth reporting: San Gabriel C&S Society meeting. My ‘early’ arrival made it possible to go to this event, which Cliff & I also attended last year. It turned out that the speaker was Guillermo Rivera, our friend and guide on our 2005 Argentina trip. He was touring California with Woody Minnich, another friend from the 2005 trip and again this year in Rio Grande do Sul. So it was big hugs in the hall. Then there was Chris Rogers, another guy from the 2005 Argentina trip there as well. Again, more handshaking. Then – as other members recognised me from our visit exactly one year ago, more handshaking and smiles. ‘Where is Cliff?’ was the frequently heard question. ‘Give him our best wishes!’

By the end of the club evening, I had been up for 24 hours and was getting light headed. So what better way to finish off the day then with a visit to BJ’s, a pub/restaurant for a couple of pints of Guinness and pizza. ‘Wow, you seem thirsty!’ said the guy next to me, as half a pint disappeared in one go. ’43 years of practice!’ I smiled, pointing at the Guinness rugby shirt that I was wearing, bought on my ’40th Anniversary of Guinness Drinking’ trip to Dublin in 2007, which of course included a tour of the Guinness Brewery museum.  

I wonder what tomorrow will bring!!

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