Monday 9 June 2003

hey, who stole my days?

Gah, where is the time going? I feel like the days are flying by and I'm not getting very much done. Remind me to pick up some spare days from the shop on the way home tonight.

Some random thoughts about our holiday that won't make it into the trip diary:

I liked being in the States more than I had anticipated. You have to understand that Canadians are so inundated with American culture/news/politics that it's not exactly an exotic place we know little about. Because of this, it's never really interested me as a place to visit. It's a bit like never being a tourist in your own country (I envy people who have actually travelled around Canada as it's something I've never really done); I hadn't considered a holiday in America. There was something very comforting in being in a land filled with sights from home, and I think this is something I appreciate a lot more now that I live overseas. I loved seeing familiar stores and restaurants along the roadside and being able to get a decent bagel. I was thrilled to eat a big pancake breakfast (and not those thin crepe things they call pancakes here), stuff my face with American junk food, and gulp down thick chocolate milkshakes. At the same time, I still had the distinct feeling of being foreign. Paul knew more about the local shops than I did (especially grocery stores) as he'd been to the States many times over the years. I couldn't get a decent cup of tea, and that really bothered me. When we told people we were from England, they'd look at me and say "Oh yes, I can tell from your accent". I fought with a gas pump until we both figured out that you had to prepay before it would be activated. Understandably (post Sept. 11 and Iraq war), there were a lot of American flags on houses, cars, tshirts, buildings, and shops. We saw lots of "God bless America" signs/bumper stickers and there was a strong "I'm proud to be American" vibe throughout the state. This strong, overt patriotism is (what Canadians think of as being) more characterstic of Americans, and although there were many familiar sights, things like this remided me that I was not entirely back home.

Still, it was lovely to be back in a land where they don't think I'm weird for eating peanut butter, I can say "tom-ay-to" without getting looks of dismay, and shops are open past 5pm. People said hello to us everywhere we went, shop clerks and waiters/waitresses really did want to provide good service, and a complete stranger helped us figure out the incredibly convoluted process of getting a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit in San Francisco) ticket and finding the correct track. For all the jibes we like to make about Americans, I cannot be critical about our short stay last month. I would go back to California again in a heartbeat.

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