Leaving Seattle on the ferry - headed to Victoria, British Colmbia, Canada.
So I have finally bid adieu to the USA. It has been a very special and exciting trip, if only for the reason that it is the first time I have travelled alone. This was something that I was excited but very nervous about! Although I like the odd patch of time alone and to do my own thing I am not someone that needs to spend a lot of time alone, so this has been a very enlightening time. I anticipated it being very hard, however it has been surprisingly refreshing. Having the opportunity to make decisions (and mistakes!) that I alone am responsible for is empowering. Being in total control of where to go and what to see has been great. I have to add here though that the US has been very kind to me.
People are incredibly friendly and will always stop and talk to you, especially when they hear that you are not local. The smallest of interactions makes a huge difference in a day. It has made me reflect on loneliness and how many people in societies are isolated and lonely. The power that even the tiniest smile, comment or true conversation can have on someones' day is remarkable. I remember spending time with my Granny and she would always talk to passers by, whether it was chatting to babies, patting dogs or striking up full conversations with people on the bus or in the supermarket. I have never had the confidence to initiate such conversations, and as a child would alway be wary of stranger danger, something that is important to always remember. However, I am an adult now, and although stranger danger is very much still a real concern, I am finding that when those interactions mean something to your day, that they happen so much more naturally. I am also finding that speaking to local people about where to visit and what to see far surpasses spending hours searching the internet. A good example of this was when I visited the Japanese Gardens in Portland, a famous and well publicised place to visit. I was reading an information board and a woman passing by mentioned how snuggly and warm my jumper looked, I smiled and said thank you. On hearing my accent she proceeded to ask where I was from, which sparked a lovely ten minute conversation about the British countryside. She then left and continued on her way, only to run back a few minutes later to tell me that I must visit the Chinese Gardens in
Portland too; they are often overlooked and are very beautiful as well. So on her recommendation, I found a hidden gem of a garden, nestled in the hustle and bustle of busy streets. Somewhere I never would have visited had it not been for her passing kindness.
I am also learning to trust in the situation that I am presented with and to plan ahead with as much information as I can store in my head (and a trusty notebook) and not on my phone! I have so far only dropped my phone in a pond, but yes it was fully submerged! By some miracle it was absolutely fine but I realised that had it been lost that I have become incredibly reliant upon it. It is my directional aid, my contact and my way of finding out where I am and where I need to go. Therefore, I am challenging myself to use it less and to master reading and creating maps of places that I will be able to use if I get myself in a pickle.
My journey in America has been a great one, I have travelled three states from California - Oregon - Washington and seen a lot of changing landscape and weather. I have become used to the sheer size of vehicles on the road from people's pick-up trucks to the lorries that they drive. I still can't distinguish the subtle differences between people's accents but I have just about mastered how to tip people!
The scale of the country is ginormous and people's generosity and openness matches the size of the place. I have learnt that the differences state to state are huge, politically, economically, educationally and geographically and the identity of people and the history and geography of each state is very unique. I am learning that travelling alone is a challenge that I can relish and I can feel proud of small achievements such as knowing how to buy a bus ticket confidently. I am learning that I want to know as much as I can about a place's history and the people that live there.
Farewell America, I hope to see you again someday.