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Published: October 19th 2015
it was a long bus ride that brought me to Detroit (with at least an hour being spent at the US border). I arrived at about 9pm and after all the horror stories I'd heard, I decided to take an Uber cab to the hostel.
As we drove up towards the hostel I started to feel a bit worried. There were more empty plots than buildings and of the few buildings still standing, quite a few had been abandoned.
I was dropped off outside the hostel and quickly got inside. I hadn't really eaten much so asked about getting food, the only option seemed to be a 10 minute walk to Michigan Ave where I was told there's a few bars and fast food restaurants. I admit I was absolutely terrified as there was very little in the way of street lighting and I kept getting glimpses of shadowy figures shuffling along the sidewalk towards me.
I made it to the subway and back without any fuss and whilst I was munching away I started to wonder, was I more scared of the place or it's reputation.
My main reason for coming to Detroit was to do
Livonia Parkrun which is about 20 minutes out of the city. I got an Uber cab again and had a really nice conversation with David, the driver, about the future of Detroit and a three hour trip to London he once made.
Parkrun was great, I wasn't pushing myself too hard because I wasn't sure of the route, even managed to take a wrong turn at one point. So you can imagine my surprise when I looked at my finish token to see that I came second, I've never been anywhere near the top finishers before!
I was a little concerned that I couldn't find my wallet, I assumed that I'd left it at the hostel. A nice parkrunner bought me a coffee and I sat and chatted with a few of them for a while. One nice lady named Jen (first person to get a 50 t shirt in the hemisphere), who I'd been chatting with all morning, even gave me her phone number in case things got worse.
Things did get worse when my return Uber didn't turn up so another lovely lady named Kim drove me the 20 miles back to my hostel. I
can't say for certain but I think running communities seem to look out for one another and will always help out someone in trouble.
I emptied everything out onto my bed and went through it all, my heart sinking with each minute that my wallet stayed elusive. I was going through the conversations I'd be having with insurance companies and the police, it would all be so much hassle.
The only other place I could think it could be was in the cab I took to Parkrun. Luckily Uber let's you call a pervious ride quite easily and David who was cleaning his gutters at the time went off to look. "it's here!" he proclaimed. "I guess you really need this, I'll be over in 10". I was so grateful, I offered to buy him lunch and everything but he was just happy to be able to help me out.
I spent the rest of the day looking at some very cool murals around the Eastern Market with a Dutch guy named Ruud, then we walked back the 3 or 4 miles to the hostel through all the abandoned neighborhoods, taking photos of derelict Addams Family type
I didn't have much in the way of plans for the rest of my stay so I took a walk along the main street that runs all the way through the centre of the city up to Detroit Institute of Art. The place is wholly owned by the people of Detroit and rather than just display the art, there are people and displays who show you how to look at art and interpret it. It made it so much more accessible.
All in all, I think Detroit gets a bad rap, I know there is a higher crime level than most places but there are so many more people who are willing to help in whatever way they can. I'm glad I came! Highlights:
The kind folks at Livonia Parkrun who helped me out when I lost my wallet.
David the awesome Uber driver who climbed down from cleaning his gutters to return my wallet and wouldn't even let me buy him lunch to say thank you. Lowlights:
Losing my wallet in the first place, I'm such an idiot.
Seeing all the amazing old buildings that have been abandoned. You can really tell that
this was once a great city.
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