I couldn't risist another session of Alabama hospitality and Joey and I checked in with Brad for one night. Joey and Brad seemed to get on like a house on fire and we went to get 'Bama's finest ribs and then all trundled out to some Bars in Mobile's main street. The next day Joey and I returned to where it all began - New Orleans, and this time we had secured ourselves some floor space staying with Margaret and Jessie who we had met at India House two weeks earlier. They had found themselves a place to live and, in true New Orlean's style, it was a "shotgun house" where there are a series of rooms and no internal doors or coridoors! I've attached a video to show this but it's incredible how such a building can so characteristically reflect the bohemian, carefree style of living that the City is so famous for. During our time hanging at the flat, the girls were preparing jelly shots to sell on the street, a man in a dress popped by for a chat and Joey and I tried to plan a way for him to bum a lift back up to Memphis
'Bama's best ribs aparently
to be reunited with his car - "Old Blue". We had one final night out in N'awlins before I had to wave goodbye to my travelling companion of the past two weeks. It was a sad farewell and I felt bad leaving him stranded but I think the adventures he had over the next few days waiting for a ride back North made up for it!
Joey continued his adventures for a good few months after I was back in England - he's a true vagabond and has clearly caught the travelling bug. I hope my hours spent waffling in the car about other parts of the world he needs to see will encourage him to come over to Europe some time soon and I can take him round my country just like he took me round his!
The flight back to NYC was just as good as the one down and I was actually able to watch the Royal Wedding on the TV which put me back in touch with the homeland! My last weekend was spent staying at my dad's friend's flat in Manhatten which is an incredible place where we stayed 8 years before when
England won the Rugby World Cup. No heroics of that form this time, just a couple of evenings out with my Aussie friends John and Tim who I had met in N'awlins the first time round.
What was a rather crazy affair, however, was sitting in a pub on a quite Sunday evening when the news came through that Osama Bin Laden had been shot. We quietly watched Obama make his speech before the entire pub erupted with cheers as the president triumphantly walked away from the podium. The owner of the bar then provided a free shot for everyone in celebration. It was fascinating to me to see such an incredible example of how different the American culture is to that of my own. Although Brits and Americans are considered to be so similar by much of the world, here was an example of a nation reacting to news in a way that was totally alien to me and, I think, in a way that would not be repeated in England - no matter who the assasinated criminal was. The City was jumping for joy! The people seemed truely ecstatic at the death of this man who had
inflicted so much pain on those who lived through the events of September 11th. The Aussies and I stood in disbelief at Time's Square and then Ground Zero as we watched the people partying in the street. Indeed, on the Metro to get down there, a group of College students got onto the carriage and began to sing the "Star Spangled Banner" at the top of their voices. I made a joke that we had been celebrating a wedding and they were now celebrating a death. They laughed, but I'm not sure whether they had understood my message. It seemed to be as alien to them that I wouldn't consider someone else's death a cause for celebration, regardless of how evil they were, as it was to me to see such jubilation surrounding a murder.
None the less, a fascinating experience to round off my adventures in the States. I had wanted to do this trip for years and had initially planned to do it for a much longer period but, given my limited targets, three weeks was plenty of time. I got to see many very different cities and, in a sense, two entirely different countries by doing
the spell in the North before starting my road trip in the South. It's cliched to say it, but there really is nothing like the freedom of having a wallet full of dollars, gas in the tank and an open road ahead of you in the Southern states! But it was the fact that I met so many great people and wasn't alone for a single day of my trip that really made it. Everywhere I went, great people seemed to find me and were determined to have a laugh, in particular the crew I met in New Orleans who I ended up spending the rest of my trip with. Hopefully we'll all meet up again some time - if it's for a road trip then all the better!
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