Conclusion

Home sweet home, we have now been in Sweden for a week and it’s about time to write our conclusion.

The purpose with our road trip to the United States was to learn more about the different cultures that existed in the country. We have learned a lot, not just only about the culture, but we also got to know a lot of new people and most of them also became our friends. There are many significant differences between the U.S. and Sweden despite the fact that both countries belong to the Western world and share the same religion.

When we were in Jackson, Mississippi, Golnaz and Fritiof got  ill and in the hospital we found out that ordinary U.S. citizens were required to have health insurance to get care. We were shocked because we are used to medical care for all both rich and poor.

We had never seen so many poor and it was an experience to learn that people do not always have it as good as we have. Americans may feel  dump sometimes and we noticed it when Jamila was interviewed by Johnny Knoxwill in Ohio.

However, the main fact is that we had a really good and exploring time together. It did actually never once cross our minds how much we really learned during this past month, all from: the multi cultures all around the country -to the hidden history behind every state. Not to mention all the people we met who helped us during our time in the U.S.

We would never consider to change or re-do any of our trips if we got the opportunity because it all went so fantastically amazing accept when Golnaz and Fritiof got sick of course. But if we still would have to change something it would probably be to perhaps plan our days a bit better. For example in Texas, when we didn’t know where to start in the beginning… But eventually, we pulled it through with a spontaneous day down at the ranch.

Would we be reading some more brochures if we’d someday go on a another road trip in the U.S ? We don’t think so. Another purpose of this whole road trip we think was to experience and explore the different places in a non-knowing way. With a “non-knowing way” we mean that we are open for every option there is. To smell, to eat, to laugh and sleep in an American way.  We learned that the best time we ever had was when we didn’t know what would happen. That our friends, is what we call: “ the shaking moments”.

Thanks for reading and goodbye!

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California – The Golden State

Hello world!

We have now visited our eighth and final state, California. We stayed with Fritiof´s other second cousins in San Diego for two days and then spent the last two days in Los Angeles trying to get a glimpse of the american celebrity life.

San Diego:

Culturally San Diego is a city with a lot of diversity, a big part of the habitants are of mexican descent and because of that, spanish is the most spoken language after english off course. San Diego is most commonly known for the San Diego Zoo, therefore we decided to visit it the first day. It was really cool and we had a lot of fun. We saw a lot of cool animals and learned plenty about what they are like. Gålnaz even overcame her fear for monkeys and had the courage to pat one!

San diego zoo

San Diego zoo

The following day we took the trolley to see the USS Midway, a retired aircraft carrier that now serve as a museum in San Diego. It was a part of the US Navy and participated in the war of Vietnam and had assisted the country in wars for 47 long years.

Los Angeles:

The first day at Los Angeles we went to Hollywood. We walked the walk of fame, went to the Hollywood Wax Museum and the universal studios, a movie based theme park, and off course we saw the famous Hollywood sign. It felt just like we were inside a movie!

Hollywood

The Hollywood sign

Did you know that Los Angeles means The Angels in spanish? Neither did we until we met Karen. She is a receptionist at our hotel and since we had such an urge for stories and facts about Los Angeles, that we invited her to lunch at . She told us a lot about her life, apparently she moved here as young to become a famous actress, but just like many other promising actors that immigrant to Los Angeles for a chance to become famous, she ended up as a flop. She also wanted to marry her girlfriend, but they don’t allow gay marriage in California anymore, since 2008. It made us really upset, but there was nothing to do about it, though it did made us regret not going to San Francisco for the gay parade.

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Albuquerque – New Mexico

The heat was unbearable. With a malfunctioning air-condition in our Hyundai, we just wanted to kill ourselves… Having the windows open didn’t help at all. Our thermometer was showing 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 44 (!) degrees Celsius.

We weren’t astonished when we found out that most of the people at Hector’s Diner were speaking Spanish. Luckily we had Fritiof – our personal interpreter.

“Quiero cuatro burritos y dos cervezas grandes, por favor”, said Fritiof.

Our jaws dropped. We knew that Fritiof had studied Spanish in the upper secondary school, but we didn’t know that he could speak the language that well. We were quite surprised by his lisping Spanish accent!

With satisfied stomachs we continued our journey. It was only two and a half hours left to Albuquerque, and we had been driving for at least six hours… This time, Jamila was driving. While Fritiof and Alex were sleeping, Golnaz shrieked:

“Stop the car!!!”

Jamila pulled the hand brake immediately.

“What’s the matter with you?! You scared the hell out of me!!”

“Look at the beautiful countryside!” said Golnaz.

Even though the rest of us were frustrated, especially the guys who was sleeping, Golnaz was right. Not even words could describe the marvelous view… We were standing on a plateau and we only saw cacti among other dry plants in the half-desert. The feeling we had wasn’t American at all. It felt like we were somewhere in the central America, perhaps in Mexico.

After having enjoyed the view for at least ten minutes, we moved on. Finally, we entered the city of Albuquerque. Unlike our stays in the other states, we didn’t have any plans in New Mexico. Fortunately, Alex came with an odd idea. He said that if we were driving around in the city, we’d probably find something interesting. And believe it or not – our Serbian friend was right! Behind the skyline of Albuquerque we saw a bunch of small dots in the air with different colours. When we approached the coloured dots the shape of them were clearer. It was balloons. Lots of balloons. Hundreds of balloons!

We parked our car a few hundred yards from the entrance of the balloon field. A large sign, with capital letters, said: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It was magnificent! Alex and Fritiof bought chile relleno with avocado, a typical Aztec meal. Just like the US has its indigenous people, the Native Americans, Mexica had its own indigenous people, too. The Mexican cousin is a mixture of Aztec, Maya and European (especially Spanish) food. Nearly forty percent of the inhabitants in Albuquerque are Latin Americans. It’s not surprising that you see Mexican food literally everywhere in the city!

Jamila took the picture of the building above. It’s quite shocking that there’s a huge desert only a half mile behind the building! A lot of bigger cities which are located in the middle of a desert have a clear line between the city and the desert. Golnaz finds it very cool.

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Oklahoma – Lawton

Hi everyone!

Texas was a wonderful state and we are now off to Lawton – Oklahoma. We started our “short” trip in a gas station, where we prepared ourselves for the best and 3 hours in small and narrow car. We took off with a full tank, satisfied stomachs and a great smiles on our faces. After driving for 25 min Fritiof pointed that the air conditioner was out of work. We all sighed at once and ignored him.

Fortunately the weather was perfect for a road trip, the sky was cloudy and it was to our use. It was a lovely day so calm and cool so we all took a siesta in the car except for Golnaz who was driving.

We checked in the nearest hotel, called Quality Lawton. The staff was so nice to us and they offered us 2 rooms for only 300$ in three nights. The hotell had great service and we all enjoyed our stay.

The State Oklahoma is located in the south central region of the U.S.A. The name Okla-homma means red people and it comes from the Indian language called Choctaw. It also says that the state is an Indian territory. So we all thought that it would be a great opportunity for us to learn more about the Native American, their culture, history and their stories. So what could be better than to visiting Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center!

The museum focused only on a tribe called Comanche. Their concept was to offer the public and their visitors a glimpse of traditional cultural items and detailed history about the tribe. And certainly to make other people get a better understanding. They actually succeeded with that and they made a mark on us all.

In the museum we met an old man called Buffalo. He was a social and talkative man in 73 years. When he found out that we were tourists from Sweden he didn’t let us out of his sight. He told us about the history of the Comanche tribe and what they have been through and so on. He also told us about how proud the Comanche’s used to be about their hair. The men used to wore it long and in two braids tied with leather thongs or colored cloth, and sometimes wrapped with beaver fur. The unusual was that the women didn’t let their hair grow as much as the men. They also parted their hair in the middle but kept it short.

A Comanche man with two beautiful braids.

Buffalo told as about his youth, when he was 8 years old his grandfather thought him how to use the bow and arrow. His grandfather was a real expert in hunting tools (gear).

“I remember how I was shaking that day. I was I little boy with no muscles so skinny and grandfather said that he also had been as small as I was. Good old days, Buffalo said with great smile on his face”

Buffalo was so kind that he insist to teach us how to use the bow and arrow. We were surprised be his kindness and how open he was to us. Even if we were strangers he treated us like his own children. He took his time and helped us the whole afternoon. We practiced to the sun down. We all become great shooters by the end of the day and Buffalo said that it was hard to choose the winner. So we all shared the first place! At the evening we made a big fire and Buffalo told us stories and legends of the Comanche tribe. It was a really great day with invaluable experiences and we don’t think that we will ever forget the meeting with our great old friend Buffalo.

We also want to share this clip with you guys so enjoy!

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Texas- the lone star state

Hello everyone!

About 11 hours ago we were already tired and just thinking about sitting in a tiny car heading to another state for nearly 11 hours, made us sick. Alex and Fritiof had thought about it so they went earlier to buy some water bottles, snickers and snacks for all of us. The trip wasn’t so bad after all. We made a lot of jokes, listened to music and had a blast. At last, we finally arrived to the big coveted Texas.

The first day we were hungry and exhausted, it was before noon, so what could possibly be better than having a nice and big delicious brunch?

While we were having brunch we also talked about what we could do the following three days. It was hopeless… we quickly ran out of ideas. Suddenly we saw a man step into the restaurant. He had a big hat and odd clothes. He slowly walked in front of us, a big dark shadow passed through our table. He said: “Well haidi hoe y’all fellas, what brings you kids into our locality?”  We were just sitting there extremely shocked and amazed by the reality. We simply told him about our situation. The man looked at us and thought for a minute. He introduced himself. Afterwards he offered us a full camping day down at the cowboy ranch. We discussed the price and because we were poor young students, we got the offer a bit cheaper.  We gladly accepted his offer and he joined us for brunch.

The second day we met Luke -the man we met yesterday- in “ The ranch life”-as the place was called. The environment was so beautiful. It was like in the movies, we saw horses, cows and bulls walking around as if life was so easy and pure. We settled down, unpacked our belongings in the tents and began to live the life as pretty damn good cowboys!

We were quite anxious to learn more and more about how the people in Texas lived the wild west.

Old Luke began to show us how to swing a lasso in the air to catch a little tiny veal. We also learned some other stuff like horseback riding and gun shooting. Later that day there was an pie-eating contest for all the campers. Did you think that we all participated? HELL yes. Golnaz was ON that pie! We had a blast!

Later on that evening we sat around the campfire when Luke started to tell old stories that have been told for generations. He also told us that it’s quite common for people to were gun’s and rifle’s in public. If a stranger would walk in to someone else’s property it would be okay to for the proprietor to shoot him or her. We compared the Swedish rules with the rules in Texas. Oboy, what a great laugh old Luke had!

The last day in Texas we decided to take it a little less wild and just enyoy the beautiful environment at the ranch. We had been influenced by Luke and the people we met, so our Texas-accent had been really good!

Later on at the evening we began to pack our belongings heading to Oklahoma!

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Jackson, Mississippi – the city of African-Americans

Hi everybody!!!

Right now we’re sitting on a comfortable sofa at Holliday Inn in northern Jackson, Mississippi! After having spent three gorgeous day in this southern state, we’re ready to move on to the biggest state in the US – Texas.

It wasn’t even dawn when we woke up four days ago in Washington DC. We took of towards Missippippi at 4 am, and Golnaz drove the first four hours until breakfast in Lexington, West Virginia. Although none of us was hungry (except Fritiof), we ate a typical American breakfast – blueberry pancakes with syrup  and scrambled eggs with bacon.

Alex was next. He drove for eight hours while the others were sleeping. When we entered the state of Mississippi there were cornfields and cotton fields almost everywhere. Fritiof, Jamila and Golnaz, who had awoken after more than six hours of sleeping, were amazed by the countryside. They fell asleep somewhere in southern Virginia, and for them there was a huge difference between the countryside in Mississippi and Virginia!

When we finally arrived to the capital of the state, Jackson, we weren’t surprised at all by the donut stands and junk food we saw almost everywhere. There were plenty of junk food corners and almost in every corner there were hotdog and donut stands. The reality in Mississippi was consistent with the picture in our heads – a majority of obese people.

Jackson at night. This picture was taken from the car.

We had been driving for more than sixteen hours that day, so we didn’t have any plans of visiting downtown. After checking in at Holliday Inn, we had a delicious supper in the Hotel. We were talking about the demographics of the city. Golnaz mentioned that she saw more black people than white people. The rest of us agreed. And she was right. The receptionist explained that more than sixty percent of the inhabitants in Jackson are African-Americans.

The very next day we ate our breakfast pretty quickly. Our plan that day was quite odd. Since we had heard that Jackson has a majority of African-American we started to think about the slavery in US. The slavery took place mostly in the southern states of America, including Mississippi. We wanted to know more about it. Unfortunately there wasn’t any museum of that in Jackson. Instead we thought about visiting a normal African-American family somewhere in the city. But how were we going to visit a family? We couldn’t randomly just  ask a family in downtown if we could visit their home… That would be veeeeeery embarrassing…

The State Capitol Mississippi

Anyway, after the breakfast we took the bus to downtown Jackson. Thank God, that day was lovely! The sun was shining and the temperature was around twenty-five degrees celsius! Along the well-known North West Street we saw famous landmarks, such as the State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion. The architecture of the older buildings was amazing! Especially the State Capitol, which was very similar to United States Capitol in Washington D.C. From nowhere a woman voice shrieked:

“Stop him! Stop the thief!!”

A middle-aged man was rushing towards us with a purse. We had to act quickly. Jamila and Alex hit him in the face simultaneously! The man fell on the pavement. And then the women who screamed came to us.

“God bless you, kids! Thank you so much! I had more than sixhundred dollars in my wallet. Here, take hundred dollars!”

“Thanks ma’am, but we can’t accept the money”, said Fritiof.

“But how can I thank you? I’ll do anything!” said the woman.

All of us were looking at each other. We were thinking exactly about the same thing. This woman was African-American, and her husband was behind here along with their children. After a couple of seconds Fritiof said:

“Ehm… We come from Sweden and we’re having a road trip here in the US. In every state we’re finding information and exploring the culture. And know we’ve ended up here in Mississippi. So we want to see how a typical African-American family is like, and how it’s like being African-American nowadays…”

The woman answered immediately.

“That sound’s lovely! Do you want to come to our place and join us for dinner later?”

“Well, we don’t want to bother you…”

“Don’t say that”, said the woman. “We’re living at 159 Pittsburg Street! Come over to our house around seven o’clock, if it’s okay?”

“Absolutely!” we said at the same time. “Thank you so much!”

We took their phone number, and happily continued to walk in downtown Jackson.

Governor’s mansion.


The home of the Pfeiffer family. Since the batteries of our camera died, we used Golnaz mobile phone.

Around 6.45 pm we took a taxi to Pittsburg Street. The trip took only ten minutes and it costed twelve dollars. We thanked the taxi driver and stepped out of the cab. The house of the Pfeiffer family was like we expected it would be – a bungalow with a small garden and a car parked at the street.

The woman, whose purse was taken by the thief earlier in the day, Sheniqua, opened the door and welcomed us into their home. Her husband, Jamal, was pleased to see us. Their children, Michael and Sheryl, was playing football outside in the garden. Firstly, we told them about the other states we had visited in the living room. They were very impressed and listened curiously. After the conversation it was time for food. Sheniqua said that she had cooked a typical African-American dinner.

 

The meal consisted of fried chicken, candied yams, beans, macaroni and cheese and – a pretty well-known southern bread – cornbread. We enjoyed every bite! After the delicious dinner we sat at the sofas in living room and talked about the African-American culture. Sheniqua said that there’s a big difference between black people in the southern and in the northern parts of the country. In New York for instance, the concentration of blacks is mostly the same in every neighborhood. Therefore it doesn’t occur any prejudice. Unfortunately it isn’t like that in Mississippi. Sheniqua explained that there are mostly black people living at Pittsburg street. On the other side of the city there are almost only white people. She thinks that this is really bad. This occurs prejudice… But one day she hopes that there won’t be any prejudices at all in America.

Later that evening Jamila asked about the slavery in the US. Jamal knew everything about it. His grandmother had told him real stories about his great-grandmother. She was a slave in southern Mississippi and the black people didn’t have any rights at all. They were threatened like if they weren’t human beings. In 1865, slavery was forbidden in the country. But the black people hadn’t the same right in the societe as the whites for ages…

We didn’t want to talk too much about depressing things, though it was very interesting to listen. Thankfully, Sheniqua was a humorous person. After having had a few laughs with the Pfeiffers, we decided to go back to the hotel. We thanked them a lot, and gave them our phone numbers as well. We’re surely going to stay in touch!

 

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City of trees – Washington DC

Hi!

Today was another exploring day. Alex drove us for about 5 hours from New York to the capital city of USA Washington D.C. We arrived early in the morning and Alex wasn’t a really good driver so we got caught by the police officer. Fortunately we only got a ticket and a warning. It turned out that one of the policemen knew the city very well. We took us the freedom and asked him about the different sightseeing’s, rules, history and the most important of all where we could find a cheap hotel. He recommended that we should find a hotel in Maryland, which lies about 50 min from the city. Golnaz took over the driving because Alex wasn’t in a good mood after the police drama so he sat at the back seat complaining about how stupid Americans are. We arrived 9.30 at the hotel, all hungry and exhausted. We came just in time for breakfast and guess what we all ordered. Yeah that’s right American pancakes with maple syrup and a lot of blue and strawberries.

You really have to try American pancakes, I promise you guys won´t be disappointed.

Washington is as you all know the capital city of the United States of America. It has approximately 600 000 habitants. The city surrounds by the states Maryland and Virginia. Washington is a city of wide avenues, parks and many white buildings and monuments centered on the National Mall. The city also offers many different sightseeing and activities for all ages.

Afterwards we went to town for some shopping. We found a lot of souvenirs and other cool stuffs. Golnaz who is very fashion conscious selected a marvelous pattern skirt to me.

Fritiof were so fascinated by a little store called “Charlie’s souvenirs”. It was a small shop crammed with everything from Obama toothbrush to (Washington) license plates. The shop was very small and it was hard to get through places. It felt like being in a little candy store with lots of different flavors and shapes, that we wanted everything but couldn’t afford it. All the cool stuffs where like candy. The owner also called Charlie was a nice old man. He talked a lot to us about everything, actually. He also gave us some advice on places that was worth to see in Washington. After a whole day of shopping we ended our first day in a little Indian restaurant.

Here are some of the souvenirs we bought.


“Yes we can”

The ultimate keychain!

The ultimate key chain!

The second morning we all agreed to visit the national mall which is an open green park in downtown Washington, D.C. But before that we had a guided tour across Washington on a big white tour bus without any windows. We saw the White House, The National Monument and we also got the opportunity to visit the memorial of the Second World War and the Vietnamese war. We couldn’t get enough of taking pictures of ever thing we saw, but guess what, it started to rain that day. Our picnic didn’t end up so well, neither did our pictures.

Hope you guys enjoyed reading!

 

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