Thursday, March 24, 2011

Travelling south!

Once we have entered Washington Dc, we went to the house of Masha, Mack and Gianna, 3 interesting young CSers with whom we enjoyed 3 nights. They lived in a nice house in Alexandria, a satellite town of DC. From here we could easily go by car or public transport to the capital of this big nation. Dc is a must see in USA because this is the political capital of this federal country. Here is the place where Obama lives, where the great museums of USA are (the Smithsonian) and where the American politics are being drawn. We have visited several important places, like the White House ( from outside), the Capitol Hill, the downtown of Dc where we went to a nice Chinese restaurant and enjoyed a great cheap meal. We were challenged by Mack to participate to the world’s worse movie ever made and called The Room. The idea was to go around midnight to the cinema where they sell the tickets for this bad movie and to buy and drink alcohol inside the theatre while throwing spoons at the screen when there was a dissonant scene or when the movie or the ideas did not made any sense. I must admit it is the worse movie ever made but the experience of seeing it and laughing at the scene for how bad they were, the people dressed as the characters and the spoons and the throwing of a ball …it all sounds weird and it actually is but I enjoyed this release of energy through laughter.

After 3 days we felt we need to go south so we drove for 2 days until we reached Beaufort, South Carolina. Here we have been welcomed by Erika, a very nice girl living in a sweet home.

We connected very easy with Erika and we talked about her experience in Japan, her world and job here in USA and her plans for the future. South Carolina is part of what is known in USA as the Deep South. Here is the place where the civil war was fought and where many people still identify themselves as southerners and the rest as the occupying nation. Anyway we felt very comfortable although the landscape was completely changed and the climate was still warm although we were in late November. Erika and her family offered us to spend the Thanksgiving Day in the family so we bought a bottle of Champagne to share with them and to celebrate this great American holyday, dated one month before Christmas. We were surprised that people did not enjoy here champagne or wine…just beer but we could share the bottle with Erika! Her family was very nice, offering us the specialty of the south: Deep friend Turkey. Normally the turkey is cooked in the over, but here in the south they use 15 litres of oil and a big frying pan and fry their turkeys. Nonetheless it tastes GREAT!!! Erika also had a day free and showed us around town, went with us to see some old African American farms, and took us to meet some of her interesting friends; oh and surely we went to shop at the thrift stores and to party to a local bar. I had a great time and so did Jan and the last day before going we went to visit Charleston, a very beautiful little town with historic importance and also we visited Savannah in Georgia, less beautiful but also important.

I must say that the travel through USA was approaching to an end and I was feeling less and less interested in new places and things. We drove the next 4 days till we arrived Miami, but before arriving there we have visited NASA. Although expensive, getting here and visiting the space shuttles and the museums and trying the simulators is very interesting. The entrance costs 50$ and is valid for 2 days.

We have arrived in Miami on the 1st of December and we were welcomed here by a great Brazilian girl, Jackie. She hosted us for 2 nights including the night of the 3rd of December when we celebrated my birthday in a Brazilian lounge with mojito’s.
During the day I did some shopping with Jan and rested on the beachfront of Miami. There is nothing much to do in Miami if you are a traveller. It’s very touristic, but more like vacation tourism. After staying with Jackie we had another host. Ted replied positively to our request and as soon as we arrived at his place we felt comfortable. He is a sceptic, a scientist and with Jan they engaged in many interesting conversations. I had 4 days of relaxation but also we played some poker and visited the Everglades. After Ted, we continued our travel to Fort Myers where Lori, a very nice lady was waiting for us. Her home looked amazing, nicely decorated and comfortable. She was not home when we arrived but the house was open so we made ourselves at home. Lori prepared for us a big room, with a nice elephant made of towels. I cooked dinner and when Lori arrived it was like we are welcoming her. It was funny for us this feeling. We all felt very comfortable and although she is new in CS, she is eager to learn and we are eager to share our experience. After a few days in Lori’s house, as it was mid December already and we kind of felt the pressure of the holydays, I took a deep look into the hosting situation on our route to Texas and saw that especially during Christmas and NY our possibilities of being hosted will drop considerably. Also there was the selling of the car issue that we still have not figured out, so, I told Jan that my idea is to spend the end of December here in Florida, possibly at Ted’s place ( he offered to host us more). Also I told him that I see better possibilities of selling the van in Florida then Texas or New Mexico. Immediately I searched for flights to Mexico from Florida, Texas and New Mexico and realised that the cheapest will be from Miami. The same day we bought the flight tickets for the next 13th of January. The flight was about 200$but it was worth, because we would skip the last month of driving, the problems with selling the car and crossing the border of Mexico on foot. I was really terrified by the option of crossing that border and travelling the north of Mexico, where all the drug problems occur. I just did not trust myself with another border hassle and with the difficulty that I have always to adapt to new countries.

As soon as that was set, I contacted Ted and we talked to him about the possibility of him hosting us for 20 days more in exchange of money. He totally agreed to the idea of hosting us but he refused any payment but we agreed on helping him around the house and cooking some food. Next day we told Lori that we will be on our way back to Fort Lauderdale, so in the morning I cleaned the car and the moment that we tried to start the engine, the car did not work. We tried to recharge the battery and to jump the car but still it did not work. We were getting worried because in 7 months we never had any problems with the van. We ended up calling AAA and they took the car to a workshop where they changed the battery for 100$. The car was working again so we decided to leave the next day in the morning towards Coral Springs where Brandee was waiting for us. Before that we stopped also in Naples where we have been hosted 2 nights by Elisabeth, a very new CS member who did not have any experience in hosting people and so it was one of the first hosts that did not let as in the house during the day and also we could not use her wi fi. She was nice but as she was a beginner she was eager to learn. During the day we were working in the public library (all the public libraries of US have great facilities and internet is free). We left Elizabeth’s house being sure that she will continue hosting people and sharing this beautiful experience.

Brandee, our next hostess in Florida, welcomed us in her lovely apartment in Coral Springs. She is a very active member of the community and she also knows a lot the area, also introduced us to the Meet-up website ( a website that helps people with similar interests to meet and enjoy each others company, doing different activities-we went to a art gallery walking night and to a game night). What was very interesting about Brandee was the fact that she has been a police officer for about 20 years. She works as traffic agent, so one day I could go in a police car. I have never been in a police car and definitely being in an American police car was so exciting for me. We shared several dinners together and talked about people and travels, also she explained us her plans for spending Christmas in Costa Rica, away from the thoughts of her ex-bf. I understood her, it is difficult when you brake up with someone, so sometimes is better to do something that puts you in different situations so you can stop thinking about this person. I hope it worked for her. Right before leaving Brandee’s home, our van stopped working again, and this time we realised it can be a more serious problem than we initially thought. We called again the AAA and then Ted and so we took the van to a workshop that Ted recommended us, and we left the van there, took all our stuff to Ted’s house and waited there. Again without a vehicle, we felt deprived of the possibility to more around. Us is definitely not a country for walking. Next day, the workshop called because they found the problem. It cost us 450$ but we decided to pay these amount and try to sell the car and recover the investment. We began to advertise the van on Craig’s list and on eBay. We also called several companies that buy second hand cars and we realise the van is at least worth 1000$ (minimum). Ted offered to buy the van in case we can’t sell it on time for 1000$. We waited because we had at least 25 days to sell it so we were looking onto the best offers. We spent Christmas with Ted, dining in a restaurant where he invited us and his family, and in the evening we went to a party in the house of someone from CS. There was a lot of food and deserts and drinks and about 30ppl.

Also for the New Year we had planned to go to Miami with a large group of CS people and dine in Hard Rock café on the Beach front and then watch the fireworks. It was nice spending the holidays in Florida; we could relax, thanks to our great host Ted and recharge our batteries. Probably from the 2 of us I needed it the most and I fully took advantage of it. The week before leaving, we found a couple through eBay that was interested in the van. They came to see the car, they liked it and so we negotiated the price. They ended up paying the price that we were ready to accept: 1600$. Also before leaving the states, the computer that Jan was using, started to brake down, finally he decided to buy a new one for 600$. It was an investment worth doing, because he works so much with the computer for his books, that if the computer would brake down in some remote place, he would have problems getting a new one and get depressed jeje. Time was flying so fast and the more we were getting closer to the date of departure the more depressed I was getting. To be honest I was getting a feeling similar to Pakistan but I was trying to convince myself that Mexico cannot be that bad, that there is much more tourism than the middle east.

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