Tuesday, 11 February 2014


1: 2006 - Coming to America

Had a fairly uneventful trip over here.  It is a long journey – about 2 hours – but because of the rotation of the earth, you get to see the sun set twice.

The first experience of the USA is always fairly negative.  Off the plane in Los Angelos, you immediately go into the long immigration and the customs queues – about 1-2 hours in total.  It was hot and sticky in LA, and the airport was very expensive, full of wonderful things to buy with lots of small human stories going on around you.  The airport is bilingual, and Spanish is everywhere.  Huge black women man the inspection points and smile at you and ask you to marry them so long as you keep moving through towards your destination.  

Then through the last checkpoint, and suddenly people stop asking for your passport, and onto the internal American flights.  Despite the distance, there is minimal in-flight service and lots of people sitting in first class.  Over the painted deserts and then the Rockies and then the fields until the forests of the East Coast come into view.  The sun starts to set for the final time, and the cities along the coast start to come into view.

By this stage, jet lag has taken over.  The blast of cold as you get off the plane as Boston seems surreal – almost as unreal as the landing approach over the lights of the city as clouds scud between you and the ground.  Logan International is a huge place but the airport PA is more sedate and less brash than LA.

The country is in the grip of fall and Halloween.  The vast inland forests are a mass of russet and yellow leaves, set off by the greens of the pines, the sky mirrors of the lakes and the stark whites of the New England houses.  There is an Arctic chill in the air, and the wind blows branches and leaves around alike.  It is fine one moment, hot in the enclosed New England verandas, icy rain the next, hard downpours and flood warnings the next.  The weather here appears almost unpredictable – thunderstorms build unpredictable in the forests.

Pumpkins lie in the fields and the large orange ones are on sale everywhere.  Cut and decorated, the seeds are scooped out and roasted in butter and salt for a one a year delicacy, together with candied corn.  Sweets are bought in preparation for the kids who will go from house to house, and witches decorate stores and homes alike.  The witches out here, in the country are evil hags, capable of injury, ugly and dangerous.  In Salem, an hour to the North East, the celebration is not so harsh, and the memory of injustice still brings tears to the eyes of old and young.

Elsewhere, in there soft drawls, the old tell each other how they plan to escape the coming cold – the time shares in Florida or Mexico or fishing on the West Coast.  While service centers check dozer blade fittings on 4-wheel drives and the car yards take delivery of this years models of arctic cats. 


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