Around the World in 3300 Days
On August 28, 1998, we fly from Stuttgart to Fort Lauderdale in Florida
with Delta Airlines. Now begins the eighth year of our voyage around the
When we started our first one-year-trip to India on the 1st of September
1980 we had no idea that this was the beginning of a life as world travelers.
Since then, we had visited all continents - except South America.
Over the years we have experienced so great times with members of Servas, the world wide hospitality organization, that as an introduction into the life in the USA we want to live with as many Servas hosts as possible.
Our first host, Frank, even picks us up at the airport of Fort Lauderdale. He helps us so much to have a good start. We rent a car and drive to Orlando where we buy, insure, and register the vanagon that we have found four weeks ago by means of the internet.
In the following weeks we live mainly with Servas hosts and learn
a lot about the life style of middle income families. As everywhere in the
world, Servas members are very active people who work for the socially
handicapped and underprivileged. We are very impressed about their enthusiasm.
We met e.g. the 80 years old lady Dolores who started to study Law with 58
years and finished her Ph.D. after four years. Then she felt better prepared
for discussions with government officials. Since then she practices as a
lawyer and is very active to improve the rights of physically handicapped
(By the way, in Germany you are not even allowed to study at a university once you are 40 years old.)
As the temperatures in Florida climbed too much for us (104 degrees) we just have the vanagon serviced and maintained, and off we drive to the north. In the Appalachians, it is supposed to be cooler.
We cross South and North Carolina on scenic back roads. We overnight close to nature on camping places of State Parks, though they are not cheap at all. In Virginia, we climb the "Blue Ridge Parkway" to see the red autumn foliage. Unfortunately, this summer was warm too long; therefore, most maple leaves just turn brown within a week. In the countryside, we spend a few agreeable days with Servas hosts.
In Atlanta, GA, Madhuri and Vijay make us feel at home (photo). They are from India and work in the US for a few years in computers, just like several hundred thousand Indians, too.
When they hear that Ursula will fly back to Germany for five days in order to attend her parents' Golden Anniversary, they spontaneously offer me a room for this time. Until late at night I have to tell about our travels through Asia and Africa, because Madhuri has a dream to travel for a full year, too. We also celebrate "Divali", the Hindu "Festival of Light", together with them and their friends. Can you imagine that after seven years we are the first white people who ever honored an invitation to a party in their home? From their friends we learn a lot about the subtle difficulties that natives from India encounter in the USA.
In 10 days, we drive straight through the flat Middle West as far as Taos in New Mexico. We only take a break in Memphis, Tennessee. In one day we attend a deeply impressive gospel service, visit Elvis Presleys home and Beale Street, the cradle of rock music (photo), and relax on a cruise with a Mississippi steamship.
On an expensive campground in Taos, we wake up in 2 inches of snow. No wonder that the cheap campgrounds of the Forestry Department are closed already. In Taos Pueblo, we take part in a school festival of the Pueblo Indians. Already the kindergarten teachers try to teach the little ones their indigenous Pueblo language. Hardly anyone of the adults speaks it. However, all have realized that they are going to lose their culture without their own language. There is no way to adapt to an "American culture", because it does not exist here in the South West. Here several cultures flourish side by side without intermingling: a British culture, a Mexican culture, an African culture, a Chinese culture, and several Indian cultures.
We visit Los Alamos, where in the Second World War the first nuclear bombs were developed in complete secrecy and prepared for their terrible use at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today scientists from all over the world do research for so called "advanced technologies".
In the south of New Mexico we are impressed by a few unique landscapes: a black lava flow, the White Sand Dunes, the Carlsbad Caverns that look somehow too clean, the City of Rocks with a wonderful campground in between the rocks (photo), and the well preserved Gila Cliff Dwellings that were inhabited for only a few years in the 13th century. After a heavy sandstorm, the snow catches up with us again, and we hurry to reach the warmer Arizona.
In little known Chiricahua National Park we are taken by surprise to see a very beautiful rock landscape. Unfortunately my back pain comes back - far too early after that intensive physiotherapy shortly before our departure from Germany - and I have a hard time to stumble through these marvelous rock sculptures (photo).
In the middle of November we stay in Tucson, AZ, for a while to prepare the vanagon and ourselves for the journey to Mexico. We also make contacts with the Writers' Association. Some of its members might help us in March 99 to find an apartment quickly, so that I can work for my German publisher.
On November 25, 1998, we cross the border to Mexico at Nogales with quite a bit of apprehension. However, we are ready to begin our Latin-American adventure.
|Pictures from our first leg through the USA||
| Forward to the second leg of our
Through Mexico, Belice and Guatemala
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