A stark break. Again. From that quiet high society life back to the road. I am writing this while drinking a giant bottle of Heineken on a greyhound bus. 24 hour ride from Orlando to New York. But how did I end up here?
I knew I didn’t really want to leave. And it felt pretty bad for the last 2 days. Aching in my heart. But it was inevidable. My host would be leaving soon too and I would end up on the road again. I wouldn’t really have cared a while ago. But after my breakdown I felt the strong urge for a little bit of “Security”. For most of you it would still be very adventurous, I just want a place to sleep at night and don’t have to worry. The first 2days Troy took care of me. I am still deeply grateful for this. I called him a few days later to let him know I was doing well. And yes I was in one of the best regions to be on New Providence. I almost feel sorry for that I am so much better off.
Of course I didn’t really sleep well the last nights. Feeling tired all the time and waking up at night. The anticipation when you have to leave a place where you ache to stay. But so it was. The point gets closer. Could not even finish the book on Mohammed. Well I missed about 2 pages. Still got what it was saying. Interesting read but truely an Orange (Spiral Dynamics) perspective on things.
I was driven to the airport. Wasn’t so lucky this time. At first the Security took my old sunscreen that I bought way back in Saint Marie de la mer in 2011 and my little sip of wilderness wash. So I took it all the way from Germany, around Europe, in a plane to the states and even the last security man got that it was just washing stuff. No, this time the Bahamian woman had a bad day. Or I didn’t have my usual aura. Probably that. Not really my day. US-Customs were not better. Asked me a bunch of questions. Even though I came from the US to the Bahamas everything seems to have changed. I get it. World tension is at an all times high and ISIS has now even struck the US. Allright. So he thought he must be a total dick. He didnt really like that I am just travelling around. Told him I came from the US, I have enough money saved up for the trip… Wasn’t really amused that I am “unemployed”, well how can I be employed when I am not allowed to work in that country?
Me: “I have enough money saved up and parents that stand behind me, shouldn’t be a problem”
Dick: “It would be if I don’t want you in my country”
So he took me to “special treatment”. I knew it was all about intimidation. So I tried to be as calm as possible. So what? I’d just go back, call my host and we will figure out a way. If the Americans don’t want my money, so’ll be it.
His collegue called me up and asked even more stupid questions. What did you do then and then? What do you do for work? So this time I knew I didn’t want to tell him the whole story. Machiavellism takes his tribute. Makes things a lot easier. So I told him I wanted to visit some ruins in middle america (which is not entirely wrong, but I am already considering going home). Then he asked me where those ruins are. Are you kidding me? So I told him I dont know the country names of all those south american states. He liked that somehow. Told him there is something in Guatemala I want to see.
So he started searching my bags (thanks god he didn’t have a look at my old tickets that might have told him that I no-showed my flight home) I was taking a deep breath. He found my spices and my toilet paper. By that time he became friendly. Must have figured out I am in fact just a friendly backpacker interested in the Americas. Go figure. He even complimented me on my “smart” container for the toilet paper. An old coffee container. Won’t get wet this way.
So i got through, with a huge delay. But still in time for my flight. Lost a whole bunch of stuff on this trip already. Seems that my travel days will come to an end. Some time ago I would have never given away all that so easily.
So on the plane. I didn’t want it to land at all. If it was up to me time would have come to a complete halt. I had no clue where I would end up, didn’t even want it that way. My “friends” close to Orlando didn’t answer. The whole story has changed. I realise now that I want a bed, I want a bit of security. I want to work, I want an environment of growth. Not a flight from all what challenges me. I loved this place I was in and now I am back at square one. Thank god there is people who care.
Talked about 2 hours to this lovely businesslady I went sightseeing with, figuring out my alternatives. Came to the conclusion that I will head to New York. A must see place. Didn’t think I would go there in winter however. So much for the Sun. So flying? 200$ and up. Taking a car and drive there? Yes. So I went to the rentals. 314$ but I would save on Hotels and whatever just sleeping in the car, enjoying my way up north. Failed on my stupid decision not to have a proper credit card. And their even more stupid policy not to accept cash. So greyhound it is. The cheapest option with just 130$ but a fun 24h ride. The train would have been an alternative but double the price. I am fine with sitting in a bus. It has wifi, so I won’t be as bored.
Booked it online using my parents credit card (again, stupid decision of mine not to have one) but my parents will understand and they will get the money back through my account. Taking the city bus, driver lets me ride for free since he cannot change a 20$ bill. I still don’t get their obsession with electronic money. Traceable and it makes you lose track on your expenses like crap. Allright, good for me. Riding the next bus to the station I was scared. I was the only white person on that bus, people start staring at me. The greyhound in Orlando happens to be in the middle of the black ghetto. Oh lord. I go inside, the smell of poor america comes to my nose. A mix of alcohol, sweat and country with a scent of gunpowder. It is all about experience. Getting slightly scared and slightly disgusted, somehow still interested. I figure I need some provisions for the ride. 24 hours is a long time sitting in a bus. Ask the security guard for a supermarket. None close, but a gas station just across the road. Still better than the overpriced stores. Oh dear. The ghetto.
A saw a typical “Gang-Bus” worn down and sprayed. A scary looking latino, his arm out the window, drove it. Further up the street a bunch of bikers had their meeting (looking like a hells angels fake). At the gas station a bunch of homeless camped around while local thugs walked around it. It felt like “Vice City”. Me in my white shirt, good looking but with 2 heavy backpacks. I spent 11$ buying a coffee, some water, chocolate, some protein bars and a beer. The thugs looked at me as if I was a rich guy. Really scary. It was the bikers that made me feel safe.
You can befriend organised criminals, but not thugs…
Needless to say I was pretty happy to get out of there. Another 2 hours wait for the bus to take off and putting my computer out to use the wifi was out of the question considering the neighborhood. I started talking to a bunch of people. Decent people among them. Good stories, interesting lifes. Talking to this Southerner who is traveling with his future brother in law who misses half his brain. “He is a little slow, but he still understands” A true survivor. Amazing what the human body can take. How the brain adapts. He was “dead” 3 times, had to be reanimated. Lay in a coma for 6 months. But this guy wants to live!
On the other hand there was this mother of 3 walking around in a topless shirt and hotpants. She talked with her boyfriend at the phone. Emberrassing. She appearantly met him about 3 weeks ago, and “jumped the opportunity” when he dumped his ex. Talking about how much she loves him and it didn’t even take 5 minutes for her to mention marriage.
This is how the station in Orlando looked like. Pretty crowded and scary at first.
My “home” for the next day.
Sitting here in that bus. In the dark, reflecting on my people watching and all the experiences in the last weeks. The poor and the rich. The grown and the stupid. What all of that teaches me. From what I have seen there where several people of true good in the last week and some who are just jerks. I have probably taken a dive in my development right now. Became a lot more judgemental than I used to be. My gratitude took a hit when I noticed where I want to be, when I noticed which people I want around me and in which environment I want to grow. The last 2 weeks were pretty intense and did show my machiavellist side. It may be time for some quiet time of reconsideration. But that is a part of mine and it showed me a new perspective on things. I really want to read Machiavelli right now. I will most likely hate it and feel better for as I am not so bad after all. Still that time has shown me my ambition, why I want to do all this. A bed and a good coffee feels good after all. Living an an “open house” with friends coming and going is insanely awesome and lobster is probably the best thing I ate so far. However it stands and falls with the people. I was and I still am fine with eating ramen noodles with a homeless guy as long as he is good company.
I am really overwhelmed right now and don’t know where I stand. All I know is that I want to continue to grow. I want to learn. I want to build my own little “Empire” that I can be proud of. I want to share my part of it. I want to understand. I want to dive into the corporate world without becoming a true machiavellist dick, renouncing my morals. Now I have to figure out how.
First stop. Jacksonville. All out of the bus. I take my valuables and my beer. Start speaking to the bus driver. He tells me to cover up my beer. Should have listened to him! After i go out of the toilet the security guard takes my beer. (Probably has a fun time now) I am pissed, walk out to the 7-Eleven that is just a block away, behaving like a child in puberty “fuck pseudo-authority” and just buy a new one. Now it did came in handy I am properly dressed. Some guy, white shirt and a tie asks me whether I have a good night.
Me: “So far yes, but that asshole of a security guard did take my beer at greyhound”
He : “Oh, let me repay you that with a 10$ bill”
So he gave me 10$ and even payed my beer and the cinnamon roll. We wanted to drink a beer together, but his mother called, wanted to get away from the wedding he was at and so I ended up with 2 beers and 10 Dollars. Would not have happened if I hadn’t been this pissed about the security guard… Made my way back to the bus-station feeling like a giant leech. I don’t really need that but sure it is nice. In search for someone to share that beer with. So found a “homeless” couple just beside the busstation. A black dude who really looked homeless and his white girlfriend. He asked me for some change. Gave him the Dollar bill I had left, and all the coins. And the beer. He asked for more… I said “I already gave you the beer”. We sat down and had a talk. I started feeling like an asshole again, gave them the potato chips I didn’t really like and 5 more dollars. After all I just got a cinnamon roll and a beer for free and am still about 3 dollars in the positive. Still feel like a greedy asshole. I feel shitty for even accepting the money. For I have gotten so much in the last days and I will continue to be on the better end.
Life tries to tell me a story here. Everything is about that balance right now. Selfishness and Selflessness. I am probably on the right way with my next mentor…
As you can see it is not really much fun to get out of the bus in the “middle of the night”. At least inside it is more comfortable than flying economy. And with 2 seats like I had til up here to Fayetteville North Carolina it is comparable to business class. Still it is a 24h ride and those “get off the bus”-Stops really begin to annoy me.