Martin Luther King memorial
This is our last night in America, quite possibly ever. When we started out on this trip we thought it would be entirely spent in the Americas, hence the subtitle to our blog. We never imagined we would be going go Asia but tomorrow we fly to Singapore.
California, more than anything, has been a place of contrast, of opposites. The landscape is astonishing and varied from the snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada to the rugged Pacific coast; from the Peaks of Yosemite and the Pinnacles National Park to the rolling hills of Napa. But there’s very little awareness of environmental issues. Restaurants serve meals with ‘disposable’ cutlery and crockery making the landfill pile enormous, even in so-called zero waste San Francisco. Little or nothing is done to collect rainwater, to utilise solar power, to reduce consumption, in a state where drought is chronic.
All of the people we have had any connection with, and many others, have been welcoming, friendly and eager to help but I’ve also encountered the rudest and most offhand people I’ve seen anywhere. San Francisco is beautiful; the architecture, setting and climate are wonderful but I have seen many more homeless people than I have seen in any other developed country. Homeless people jacking up, rummaging in bins, asking for money and trying to find somewhere to sleep. There’s no safety net for them, no health care, housing benefit, assistance. To paraphrase Barbara Kingsolver, it’s a shame America isn’t as nice as the Americans.
Ranch in Petaluma, helpx 5
Our first four months have been stunning. Sean takes it in his stride more than I do. I’m always a little anxious when the time comes to move on and part of me hankers after the stability of home. But we weren’t looking for the easy option. If we were we would have stayed home. We’ve seen things we never imagined, some wonderful, some heartbreaking; met more inspirational people than we would have thought; had our thoughts thoroughly provoked and learnt more than we could have dreamed. And now we’re ready to move on to Part 2, the Asian Adventure.
These are the places we’ve been so far.
Queens hotel, Queens helpx, Alexandria (Washington D C),New Orleans, Lacombe, Atlanta (Rome, Marietta), Antigua (San Andres Itzapa), Panajachel (Santiago, San Juan, Chichicastenango, Solola) Antigua, Copan Ruinas, Finca El Cisne, Copan Ruinas, Guatemala City, Visalia, Merced (Yosemite, Monterey), Salinas (Santa Cruz), Ben Lomond (Carmel), Pismo Beach (Pinnacles), Merced, Modesto (Knight’s Landing, Columbia, Sonora), Petaluma, San Francisco
And these are some of the people we’ve met:
Blair, Marc, Ethan, Sharon, Asher, Felix, Matt, breakfast guy, tour guide, Keith, Harlem coffee shop guy, Will, Antoinette, WH anti-war guy, Ethiopians, lost ticket guy on train, NOLA sherrif, cab driver, Felina Nicole + 1, NOLA builders, Louise, Tom, Larry, Michael, Fabien, Noemie, Ged, Lynn, Richard, No Se bar girl, Eduardo the Dutchman, Darcy, Bill dyslexia bookshop, Itzapa taxi driver, Henry-Alexander, Pedro, Erlinder et al, Mario (and Veronica), Rafael, Alex (in square), Edgar, Erin, Tomas, Oseas, Beatrice, Murray Mintz, Alison, Courtney, woman from La Encantada, banana lady, Gallery Tom, Julio, Geraldo, Carlos, Edin, Julian, Lucien, Immigration official, Denise Brown, Heather, Cayman, Myra, Dorothy (Grandma DJ), Mary, Heather’s mum, mountain dulcimer man, Reggie, Belinda, Cecil, Ted, redwoods bike man, Nancy and Roger, Matt, Connie, Giuseppe, John Steven Thomas, Richard, Pam, Robyn, Stepen, Mitch, Lindsey, Brian, End the British Empire Man