Sunday, 11 December 2011

A few Observations from my trip

Well, after my long avoided lightning trip to America, I have merely a few photos and some t-shirts bought from the outlet mall on I25 to show for it. It is 12 years since I last went to America and I confess this trip was easier than I had remembered. Passing through Denver airport instead of Washington or Chicago is much more civilised as it feels a lot less metropolitan and serious.

All that Americana was quite overwhelming since I think we are deceived by the seeming similarity of language into thinking the cultures are similar. In some ways perhaps they are, inasmuch as wherever you go, people are people.
And of course there is a cultural colonisation happening the world over through appealing American brands and retail meccas resembling the strip malls one sees on the outskirts of towns in the US.
Much fuss seems to be made about this here, but I suppose if this is what people want then there seems no reason they shouldn't have it.

But the unselfconsciousness of people is rather endearing. Upon hearing my obviously English accent, many Coloradians would stop and ask with genuine interest "Where are you from?"
"England" I would reply. And their curiosity would result in a cheerful and pleasant conversation ending in a heartfelt "Well, welcome to America and I hope you enjoy your stay!"
I find such generosity of spirit very endearing. You don't often find it here in England where we tend, on the whole to be polite but a little grumpy (Think "How are you today?" "Ohh.. mustn't grumble I s'pose..").
And I do so love American street names. Look at this: "Lady Moon". That same unselfconsciousness is apparent here and how lovely to call a street thus. Admittedly, the grid patterns of the other streets and the logical convention of numbering streets instead of naming them is a little less imaginative, but nevertheless, it has a systematic purpose behind it which makes sense. But a street called "Harmony" must surely e more interestingly named than "High Street" and "College" tells you, as does our most common street name "Station Road" precisely what to expect there. My hotel was on "Horsetooth" which apparently reflects the shape of the hill which runs parallel to it. That frankly tickles me.Sometimes however, one encounters the surreal in the enthusiastic... This struck me as a little "South Park"

Alas, the work that piled up in my absence, despite the tools given to me to make me constantly contactable anywhere in the world, is quite insistent. Hence I do not have time to elaborate fully on my observations from last week. I have another busy week this week with a trip to Stuttgart, stormy weather permitting, so I will probably forget most of them anyway. But for now, here is a photo from my hotel at twilight. You can see the mountains in the distance, perhaps 50 miles away. They are so huge and yet at this distance merely hint at that indescribably but evocative feeling of adventure one feels whilst looking at distant hills at dusk.

So, for now, I leave the memories of a five thousand mile journey across the world by aeroplane, for a twelve mile journey to the office by bicycle.
Life is full of contrasts.


Librarian said...

Good to hear the whole getting-through-immigration-process was not as bad as expected!
The friendliness of the people you met is what I found, too, on that (so far) only trip to the US I've ever made, back in 1999.
I remember one time when my then husband and I were looking for a specific address and weren't quite sure which direction to take, another customer at the gas station where I was asking for directions heard me talking to the man behind the counter and offered to show us the way, so we followed his car for about 20 minutes and he really made sure we were alright and almost took us to the door of the house; we only had to ring the doorbell ourselves :-)
And in England, where I spend time with the family at least once a year, I have met many friendly people, too. They usually do not instantly take me for a stranger, because my accent tends to be quite Yorkshire when I am not watching my every word too closely.


How the other half live. Work trips for me would be taking a group of kids to Asda. Still, that could be an adventure, one kid stealing a sausage from a builder's breakfast at the cafe, another diving on the wet fish counter.
I've never been to America, though always thought I'd live there.
My friend has recently shipped over a guy she met online, married him, and he's settled here now, poor thing.
When she first went over to meet him, someone said "hey, are you from England?"
She said, no - Wales.
"oh good for you" came the bemused reply!
More stories please - make time. Just like I, err, have (n't)

PerlNumquist said...

But I wasn't always living as "the other half lives". As my previous post points out: I can't quite work out how it happened that I ended up doing this. One minute I was a scruffy kid in a small village where my dad was a lorry driver, next I am.. somewhere else. Perhaps I was just lucky.
And its hard to get a grasp of geography when all your news is filtered by CNN or worse: Fox. I am glad I can get the BBC over there.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Pete:
It is possibly very true that we are, in essence, divided from America by a common language. But that said, and we have never visited, we should concur with the view that America is, based on the wonderful individuals we have been fortunate enough to meet, the most generous and welcoming of nations.

We continue to experience huge difficulties with our Google Reader which more often than not fails to show your blog despite our best endeavours to correct this fault.