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Summing up the trip

Here we are after almost a month of American adventures, we’re grown pretty tired of each other during the time but while it’s going to be nice to come home and meet our parents and sleep in our own beds we’re all going to miss this and we’ve already begun planning the next trip. Maybe Australia this time?

Any way, we had to say goodbye to Paco for now and that was kind of sad, Leo was devastated but after a couple of hugs and promises about arranging so that Paco can come along on our next road trip he pulled himself together a bit.

Leo even got Paco’s hat as a memory. Such a sweet guy, we’ll be sure to meet up with him again.

We tried to come up with a top five moments of the trip or at least some highlights but realized it was much harder than we thought since even the small things like lying like packed herrings (as we say in Sweden) in the minimal motel rooms talking about everything from Pacos run for the border to Emils itchy toe has been wonderful experiences completely comparable with flying down the slopes of Aspen or strolling around in Las Vegas. Though we did get a bit too much information about that toe of Emils. I mean come on. How much itch can you get on a toe? You’d think he had cut it off by the way he described his pains some days.

Our time plan turned out to work perfectly even though it was really loosely organized. It felt like we had enough time to experience a lot considering we only stayed 25 days but that’s the way we like it, to experience completely new things next day. We although didn’t like traveling as tourists that much. We knew when we planned the trip that this was how we were going to travel and we didn’t have another choice due to our urge to see so many different places.

Meeting Paco was also great experience he showed us a lot of things we wouldn’t see usually his foreign origins really made an impact on how he looked on things. We all grew up in Sweden and perhaps we didn’t appreciate things that much. Paco on the other hand was happy for anything he could get. He came from a family where hard work and traditions were valued over anything else. We felt that staying USA for a longer time might have given us more insight about how the society really worked. Just traveling the country was a great experience, none the less not enought to really understand how people actually live. Living in an American family one by one would’ve given much more knowledge because then you don’t just travel past places and only experience what the city offers you at first sight. We think that seeing things from the perspective of a tourist influences your perception of what you really see. Staying in a city for a longer time gives a much deeper view of the traditions and culture.

We think if we were given the opportunity to travel again with the intention to learn about American culture we would much rather stay in a city for a longer time. Miami was the city which we stayed the longest time in and that was great, the last days we felt that we started to connect with the culture and with the people who lived there, although that isn’t enough in our opinion. When you just travel across the country all you really see is the shallow surface of the earth, we see mountains, we see forests. But what we don’t experience is people’s life and the little details which make life special.

Although we shouldn’t complain this was after all not a scientific research study, we were after all in USA to see the country and have a pleasant time and our sudden urge for learning came after our roadtrip so it certainly served it’s purpose. If we would give our trip a grade it would be 5 out of 5 KFC buckets

The Empo3000 crew signing out.

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Last stop: the Sunshine State

After a very linear travel experience we finally arrived to Miami. We were all exhausted from the ride on the crowded bus, but we felt relieved that we finally reached our final destination. Since our stay in Miami was going to be longer we have managed to rent a cheap penthouse. We were delighted about the freshness of our relatively classy suite. We quickly got rid of our luggage and decided to see the sunny city of Miami.

The glass skyscrapers were glowing from the sun and the people on the streets looked like they all were on their way to the beach. We thought that it would be wise to accompany the local habitants and we were suddenly on our way to the beach. The beach itself was truly magnificent, the long waves rolling in and beautiful people. It was all perfect. The water was also very temperate, but Nadin and Paco were afraid of the big waves.

After bathing and sunbathing for the entire afternoon we felt that it was time for some proper food and we ate some delicious BBQ elegantly cooked by Paco in our suite. The continuous days were followed in an easy pace and we really started to feel relaxed for once. We really liked how the life was in Miami, most people weren’t stressed out and everyone was so nice. Paco even made very close friends with our neighbors who were an old couple who were surprised by Paco’s gastronomical and artistical skill and they even asked him if he would like to stay with them when we traveled further.

One day Nadin got the brilliant idea that we should spend our latest savings on shopping, we all traveled to the “Florida Mall”. “Florida Mall” was great, we all burnt holes in our pockets, but we were satisfied with our spending. Emil wanted to go to Everglades the next day and we all accepted his idea and went to bed early.

Emil woke us up early with some egg and bacon and was truly enthralled about today’s adventure. We stepped on the bus heading towards “Everglades Alligator Farm” and we were all excited about going there. Emil told us all about the magnificent swamps around in Florida and about the majestic alligators who roamed the rivers. We had signed up for an airboat ride which would take us through the marsh.

Our guide for the trip was called Bob O’Flannigan. He looked like he was made out of 90% muscles and 10% of his red long hair. Since we went there so early we were the only ones on the airboat and we were pleased with having our own personal guide. We were given hearing protection because the motor of the airboat which is a big fan is really loud. We traveled the river for about an hour and then we got to “cuddle” with the alligators, or that was at least what Bob referred to it as.

After riding the boat for another hour it was finally time for lunch and we were given sandwiches made by Bob’s wife Jo. After a very pleasant lunch we got on the airboats again and we got to see the last part of the big swamp. We were all really happy about going to Everglades and we thought that Emil’s choice was great.

Our last day of the trip we spent going to Disney land with Paco. We were going there during the day and at 8 pm we were going to the airport. We traveled there by bus, Paco was very sad about us leaving and he almost seemed eager to come to Sweden with us, but he didn’t have the money for it.

Disney World was our first amusement park in USA and it was very different from Liseberg that we were used to. First of all Disney World was larger and they sold more snacks. They had candied popcorns and candied apples that were a sugartastic experience for all of us. We got to see a lot of famous Disney characters. Emil got to ride an elephant named “Dumbo”. Nadin got to see her dream castle and the blue monster from “Monsters Inc”.

After seeing various Disney characters and riding multiply rollercoasters the sun started to hide behind the horizon we sat down for a last meal time with Paco. He was very sad about us leaving and we saw a few tears fall down his cheek. We spent our last time together with Paco on a McDonald’s restaurant. After finishing our food we made sure Paco got picked up by the old couple that lived next to us in Miami. He would work for them as a housekeeper and he would begin studying so he could get an art major. After a very emotional farewell we finally parted and suddenly we were on our own. The taxi which was taking us to the airport arrived quickly and we were to our disappointment on our way home at last.

//The Empo Crew

Over and out.

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Bus through Mississippi and Alabama

On our way The view from the bus was amazing! We could actually see cornfields, which was exotic, it wasn’t like anything we’ve ever seen before. It’s interesting how the view can change so much in such a short distance.  The weather wasn’t what we had hoped for. It was raining but it was still warm outside. The four of us were hungry, which was clearly obvious when our bellies started rumbling. So we decided to jump off the bus at a stop near a KFC restaurant but we didn’t find any until we were in Alabama.

We filmed ourselves ordering at KFC in Alabama.

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Paco becomes useful in the place were jazz was invented!

Another one of the Leos main conditions of the trip was to experience some of the world known Orleans Jazz at a local club. We quickly realized we didn’t have a clue where to go when we had dropped off our bags in a rather scruffy motel. The problem wasn’t to find a jazz club but to choose one of the hundreds literately flooding the streets of central New Orleans.

It turned out Paco had been to New Orleans several times before and as an authentic jazz lover he knew all the good ones. He meant we should give the Steamboat Natchez a try, the classic steam boat cruiser were the world’s finest jazz is played during dinner though, unfortunately it turned out we were too late as reservations weeks ahead was necessary.

But we weren’t going to let that stop us from getting jazzed out so instead we headed down to Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz club down at St. Claude avenue were the jazz according to Paco was top notch. Truer words has never been spoken, Leo couldn’t stop talking about the smooth compositions and the accurate improvisations by the promising young jazz talents of the city. He didn’t have a hard time accepting what they say, that jazz was invented in this city. And the rest of the group didn’t have a problem with going there the next evening as well, it was truly entertaining.

After a couple of nights consisting of, besides excellent music, great food and nice people we had to move on since Nadine was getting kind of eager getting to Disney Land so we packed our bags and are now on the bus heading towards Mississippi and Alabama.
Everywhere we went the people of New Orleans were playing jazz, truly amazing city.

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If it’s fried, it’s good!

We had been on the road for a long time and the next stop was Houston, Texas. The bus trip was a pain in the ass, it took the driver like forever to reach the destination. After a whole lot of swearwords and arguments we finally reached the motel we were going to stay at. We were all drowned in sweat, in addition to all that we had to split one shower! The motel, Motel 6 Houston Reliant Park, was in a pretty good condition and we stayed there for two nights.

The next day in Houston we met a cute and friendly couple who offered us coaching  through the annual Houston International Festival. This festival is also known as iFest and  is a contemporary and multicultural arts and music festival.  The best thing about it according to the couple, and quickly confirmed by the Leos, was that everything (edible) was fried.
gvghvhvHere’s Mark and Jenna who insisted that we gave this day of fried delicacies a shot.

We had no other choice but to go to the festival the following day. Paco wanted to come along, so we brought him. He is actually a very kind-hearted and decent man, even though it’s hard for Emil to get on well with him. Anyway we went there and indeed, like the couple said, almost all the food was fried! We jumped like small hobbits from one booth to another, it was like heaven! At least in the beginning.Paco behaved through the whole day, but for some stupid reason he got into a fight with Emil. We tried to make peace between them, which was pointless. Neither Emil or Paco wanted to tell us what the problem was. They made a proper fools of themselves.

The most memorable thing from this day was meeting Oprah Winfrey. She was on tour with a friend and we were lucky to meet her, which was pretty cool!

After a great deal of photographing, plenty of walking and a whole lot of food, we returned to the motel. Exhausted we tried to pack our bags before we went to sleep.

Oprah Winfrey.

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What rhymes on the name of a nice guy called Paco?

We arrived early in the morning to the wind bitten city of Santa Fe. Unlike the streets of all the other cities these streets were empty. There are only 66000 residents in Santa Fe and compared to Las Vegas or L.A it’s nothing. The weather was at least more forgiving than what we endured in Nevada and Arizona.

Our hotel was oddly nestled between two narrow streets and we probably walked past it three times until we eventually understood that the hole in the wall was our hotel. The receptionist was talking Spanish to us and Leo had troubles making himself understood. We were given strict restrictions about not music or talking after 10 P.M.

After laying our bags in our room we explored the city. Santa Fe is a quite different from other cities, the houses have vastly influenced by Spanish architecture and we found various comfy cafés. The city was overall very strolling friendly and we spent the afternoon walking around the city. When nightfall was imminent we found ourselves a nice tapas restaurant and we ate the most delicious food yet and after a few laughs we decided to go to bed.

We wore woken up early in the morning by the receptionist who said that we should sleep the day away; unfortunately it was 8 O’clock in the morning and we all were really tired. We didn’t know what we should do in the city and after a quick discussion we thought a visit to an art museum would be fun. When we were walking towards the art museum we found a quite jolly fellow by the name of Paco Rodriguez. Paco said he was lost and asked for direction to a cheap hotel or money for food. We gave Paco some money and told him were our cheap hotel was located and asked him if he wanted to tag along. Paco was very pleased and kept thanking us and talking about how he ended up in Santa Fe the entire way to the museum. Paco said he wanted to escape Santa Fe, that he wanted to travel the world. He thought that Santa Fe was like riding the bus. Fun the first time, but when you get to do it all the time it really sucked.

Paco really knew a lot about art and at the museum we were all surprised by how he could tell the story behind every painting. Our stay at the museum was very pleasant and Paco was really funny. We started to feel hungry and asked Paco for a good place to eat. Paco proclaimed that the best restaurant in Santa Fe was his aunt’s diner. He showed us the way through the narrow streets and his aunt really had the best food in all of Santa Fe. After eating very tasty tacos we decided that it was time to return to the hotel. We asked Paco if he wanted to come with us and he said that he very happily would. Paco said that he couldn’t return home since his parents kicked him out of the house, they weren’t happy about his lack of acceptance about his existence in Santa Fe.

We returned to the hotel and after Paco explained the situation in flawless Spanish for the restaurant he could stay with us. We woke up early in the morning and after helping Paco book a bus ticket from the few savings he had we were on the road again  towards Houston.

Santa Fe is the capital in the American federal state New Mexico and the total population is nearly 66 000 inhabitants. Most of the people in Santa Fe have a Spanish origin, which makes the town so different. Their deep-rooted culture has sat a strong impression at the city, among many things the annual fiesta. Santa Fe was founded in 1607 by European immigrants and the town keeps its characteristic and old appearances by a local legislation which crop that all the buildings have to be built-in the style Adobe. The biggest fuels in Santa Fe are tourism and art.

The cultural influence in Santa Fe is major and the city is very proud of its grand art collective. There are several galleries, even in the public environment there are a lot of sculptures.

El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe

The most famous museum in New Mexico is” El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe”. But the thing with this museum is that it doesn’t fit in the general concept of a museum. They call it “a center of Hispanic Culture and Learning”.  The reason is that it is a place where one learns through shared experience. They display and promote Hispanic art, culture, and history.

The museum is celebrating their 10th anniversary this summer. Seven years ago they moved into their present building, an inaccessible liquor warehouse, which was renovated with the help of many volunteers. They started with a small gallery and now they use the entire place, 32 000 square feet! The theater has 200 seats which were donated by the Santa Fe Opera and other local theater companies.

Since November 2004 they have been the home to the Santa Fe chapter of Veterans for Peace, and they also host the Winter Farmer’s Market and the winter Contemporary Hispanic Market. They host various events that have to do with the community. They also mount common art shows in their gallery space as well as arranging room for numerous classes and workshops.

Predominately a volunteer organization which is staffed by only one person, El Museo is making a huge influence on the Santa Fe community by bringing together different religious and non-religious groups. The work is very important to engaging young people in cultural and arts activities. They are also a part of the continued growth of the Railyard District.

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