Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Again In USA

After leaving Wayn’s home and camping for 3 nights, we headed south to the USA border, with many emotions, because our journey will depend on the availability of the American authorities to extend our initial visa. Remembering the little adventure we had before entering Canada ( for just asking a question) and having heard other horrible stories of travellers that got their visa cancelled at the border, well…lets say I spent a few nights not sleeping, worrying to much…it’s true I know…I worry too much. With huge angst, we arrived at the border cross …a very small one on the state of Main border line. It was so small that there was not even a wall or police outside. We waited for the officer to come to us and then we mentioned him that we are interested in our options to extend our visa. He invited us inside the check post, where without asking too many questions and after reading the pages about our travel…he simply invited us to pay 6 dollars each and he gave us a new entry of 6 months. When we left the check post I was screaming of happiness because the new entry meant that we could spend as long as we need in USA to be able to finish our visiting plans + to sell the van. The weather in the north has been bad for the last weeks and we were realising for the first time in this travel that winter is approaching…We haven’t spent any real winter and no rain in all these years and for us all this cold and rain was bringing depression and desires to go home. Lucky we were that the next destinations were at least so appealing that all this cold was worthy. We have crossed the border on the 25th of October and slowly, we started to drive south bound, stopping at first at the lovely park of Acadia. Here in USA the park still preserved some leafs and we could do some good camping, although next morning…quite early a ranger’s car woke us up and decided to fine us 100dollars for having spent the night in the park. We were used in Canada for the parks to be closed and so no rangers…’how lucky that here in USA the parks were still open’…anyway…when the ranger asked for our papers, and saw that we were foreigners with a car from California, he decided it was too much hassle for him to fine us but he advised us that we are on the black list of the national park and that we should not camp again. Happy that in the end he was not such an asshole we left the parking lot and drove through the park (we really enjoyed it). To be honest, after driving through Maine I have to say that the landscape of this state is one that most attracts me, red grass, yellow trees…magic. I would definitely come back to Maine.
The 30 of November is a big holyday in USA, The Halloween.

We had in mind to spend this day in the most wanted place in the world to celebrate it: Salem ( Bran is second best it seems). Before arriving to Salem we contacted John from CS in Portland, a small and enchanting city of the east coast. John owns a beautiful house close to the centre of the city, and so we could soend some relaxing day, preparing with energy for Salem. I also got the chance to find a nice costume and I cut my hair. I noticed that with the travel I need to take care about the condition of my hair…too much stress and white hair.
We had the opportunity to share our stories with John, who although in his 50’s he were well maintained and with desires to travel some more. He even had a story of survival from when he was in his early 40’s and got lost in the woods of Alaska for 13 days. He almost died there but his good instincts of survival got him to a chalet from where he was rescued after walking about 400km through the woods.
After leaving from John’s house we have arrived on the 29th in Salem, and our host Darell was waiting for us. He owns a one room flat in Salem downtown- a bachelor apartment)and we were lucky to meet him and his girlfriend. We went out walking through the city, all in disguise; it seems here in Salem the party starts one week before. Jan had a wig and vampire teeth and he painted his face as a zombie and I was a witch but to be honest he got all the attention in the street, people stopping him and asking for a photo. The streets of Salem were full of everything…from Disney cartoons to movie starts transformed in zombies or book characters. It was a jungle, plus the religious preachers at every corner of the street…some more crazy than other…screaming loudly phrases like: I used to be gay but Jesus saved me and now I am married with children….

It was such a freak show everywhere that you cold not stop watching, laughing or getting surprised. Coming to Salem for Halloween is really an unique experience. Second day we did the same only from the morning until the night…and in the night we have paid the entry to a private party that wasn’t so good and we decided to leave early and wonder the streets of Salem watching more craziness. It’s been a great experience but the next morning we had to continue our route. Going south to NY we had to see Boston and we were lucky to be hosted here by the brother of the owner of CS and his wife. Although we thought that we will have a super incredible experience, we were disappointed to find a place where too many people were being hosted and there was a lack of interaction unless alcohol was being consumed. Anyway during the 3 nights that we spent here we could enjoy two dinners and also visit Cambridge and the surrounding of the city. After leaving the place in Boston we headed to Yale University, another important place for the educational system of USA. I liked Yale although it seems a Disney park for education. The moment you start visiting cities on the east coast there is much more architecture to see and much ore similarities with European towns which until now we haven’t experienced in USA.

About 3 years ago we met a coupe in Pretoria, South Africa. They were also travelling at that moment and we had made a connection on CS, and as I saw that right now they were living in NY I decided to write them an email. We were lucky because they offered to host us for 5 days in Manhattan, NY. Here in NY it is difficult to get hosted so the fact that they could host us was a miracle. Jan and Magda are a very good couple, formed a few years ago ( Magda is a photographer of polish origins) and Jan is a designer. Once we arrived at their little apartment in the Lower East village, we felt happy to find two old friends with whom we could share our experiences and theirs as well.

We had a room just for us and although the window was having exit to a big street , we could sleep . To be honest at six am every morning you could start hearing the huge noise of the traffic until very late in the night (plus sirens of ambulances, fireman trucks and police). I LOVE NY! Is there anything to add to this statement? Manhattan is a great metropolitan place where one can live…but incredibly expensive. For a 25 square m apartment Jan and Magda were paying 2200 dollars every month. Each day of these 5 days that we spent in NY we walked intensively.

Although the metro works pretty well, many things were reachable on foot. We walked to the Brooklyn Bridge, The Ground Zero, went to the Staten Island with a free ferry to see the Statue of Liberty , walked the 5th avenue up and down, went to the Times Square, went to SOHO and China Town, went to Little Italy, to the Central Park and Union Square, Madison Sq Garden, to the Wall street…..countless places and even went out for drinks with Jan and two friends from Chile that I was in contact with while they were in Africa and middle east and we just past each other several times and now after 2 years we finally met in person. What a small world!

I must repeat myself and say I LOVE NY! And continue saying I will miss this great, amazing metropolis but our journey must go on and after this amazing experience our road continues to New Jersey, another place famous for the series called the Jersey shore ( I have never seen this series- it seems pretty bad). In NY it was cold, we had to use all our winter cloths and still was not enough but once going down into NJ we felt relief to see that the weather wasn’t getting worse and sunny days were still possible in mid November. In NJ we were hosted in a small town by Dan, a very nice man in his late 40’s, who owned a very beautiful house and where we could relax after those tremendous days in NY. Jan is working a lot these days because he needs to publish the new book about Africa, before April of next year. Dan is an amazing host, with vast interests and numberless questions about the world and our experiences. He is a great person with whom we hope to cross paths again in the future. We relaxed, recharged batteries and also did some bike rides through the small villages and towns in the area, sharing great meals every night with Dan.
It was already late November and we still had a good road to do until reaching Florida, where I wanted to spend my birthday at the beginning of December. We continued our journey down south to Philadelphia or Philly as the locals call it. Philadelphia preserves a lot of history related to the background of the creating of the USA. It has a nice downtown that we explored with the help and participation of our host Joshua, a great guy who belongs to the vast gay community of Philadelphia. Josh is just 2 years older than me and he came out of the closet just a few years ago (he admitted recently that he is gay), coming from a pretty traditional family who had some issues understanding and accepting him. I like Josh, he is a very, very nice person, very helpful and funny but in the same way pretty balanced and conscious of his actions. He reminded me physically of my little brother Mattia who also is fair haired and has gray /blue eyes. We spent a few good days in his home, sharing meals and interesting conversations and protecting ourselves from the horrible rainy weather outside.

Finally we had to leave because Thanksgiving was approaching and people recommended us to spend it more in the south with a family but not before visiting the nation’s capital: Washington DC.