hustle and flow.

Travelling is useful for a boundless amount of reasons: it helps you discover new places, wonderful new people, new cultures, new foods and even a new life!

Just the same, travelling can also help you discover what isn’t for you.

This past week, I’ve been visiting one of the world’s top cities in one of the world’s greatest states, New York, USA, and I’ve never more in my life concretely justified that I can never and will never live in a place.

A trip down...

Carr: A trip down Madison Avenue?

That’s a hard thing for me to say as I am a traveller at heart and a strong believer that there’s the good and the bad in every spot on this Earth. However – and I say this after deep consideration – this state (and country, for that matter) is not for me.

From the struggle to find a store that would trade dollar bills for quarters to get on the bus (because apparently change is really hard to come by for shop keepers) to the lingering smells and polluted sewer drains throughout the streets that made me sneeze at every intersection to the countless-hours search for a parking spot somewhat near your cousin’s house or spending an hour (or more) just getting onto the George Washington Bridge, being a tourist in New York state has been my life’s current greatest challenge.

No trip will be perfect, if there’s anything I’ve learned from all my recent travels. Yet, no matter what we tried to do to minimize issues, others always appeared. But that’s the beauty of travel, too: it continually puts you out of your comfort zone, out of normalcy, which makes you appreciate it even more.

9/11 Memorial: A must-see.

9/11 Memorial: A must-see.

Still, then came the thoughts of how others function in such a society. Entering a 5-lane-merging-from-all-directions highway which takes at least half an hour must increase one’s stress levels somewhat, and on a daily basis, this is probably not very healthy. To add to that, the long, continuous work hours and the every-man-for-himself mentality, people here must seem to take every day as a literal survival course. But then again, it matters how you look at it: coincidentally on my way home, I was reading a book given to me by a friend entitled, Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse by twentysomething author Alida Nugent, in which she described city-living in New York. One quote she mentions specifically stuck out:

“There is no open-armness about city life, no kind voices to tell you not to take a certain route at night or where to get the best sandwiches at 2 A.M. Instead, there is concrete. […] You become part of a big, uniformed fish school with no one destination but an underlying thought: keep going.” (p. 181)

Keep going.

Whether in New York or New Caledonia, keep going. Back at work after a week’s vacation, keep going. With all the ups and downs in life, keep going.

The Bronx: all the way up!

The Bronx: all the way up!

So, who is not to say that what I consider organized chaos another considers a comfortable routine? Like people and practices, some places take time to get used to, and New York is no exception. I will admit that even my home away from home was not an absolute haven at first glance. Time Square was bright (as expected), Central Park was right green (as ever) and Jamaica Avenue had deals I’ll never find again in my life. West Village has a piece of my heart and Wall Street, a bit of my change. Some of the people were not the nicest, but others sure put a smile on my face. The pace of the city keeps even the weakest in shape and all of these things are what make this place what it is.

Jersey read my mind.

Jersey read my mind. It was fun, NYC!

It all depends on perspective, and this time around I saw all sides of the coin. I’ll visit New York again, but I’ll never live there, and that’s okay. To finish off with Nugent’s just ending: “I hope you find your ‘here’ someday. I hope you know you’re already there.”

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music of the Moment:

Comme les Éléphants

While wondering the halls of the musée Dauphinois right by my French residence, I happened upon a quote by mountaineer, Caroline Villeneuve, that read, “Mon rêve, c’était de faire comme les éléphants, de revenir où je suis née” or in English, “My dream, it was to do as the elephants, to come back to where I was born.” For some reason, this has resonated with me since then and I did not really know why until now.

I recently returned from a fulfilling trip back to Jamaica. It was the first time I travelled for the holidays since moving further north, and I have decided that travel during the winter season to a warmer destination can cause some painful withdrawals, upon return, which I do not admire at this time.

Uptown Kingston at primet-time: Hop on while you can!

Uptown Kingston at prime-time: hop on while you can!

Still, though I have taken this trip before, I had never taken it like this. The fragile innocence of youth can blind one to the realities that they have lived, and this trip exposed me to many of these facts and figures I had not concretely defined before.

Simply put, it was a family trip to celebrate the start of the end and the end of the start.

Nevertheless I went into this with an agenda; comme les éléphants, I knew that there was much to rediscover and I only had two weeks. I prepared myself as I had during last summer’s European adventure: I made a list of destinations after a quick search on TripAdvisor and I made a promise to myself that no time would be wasted; at least once every day, the sun would shine on my face. Soon I came to realise that my agenda was becoming of something more.

Negril: Rick's Café at sunset is a must.

Negril: Rick’s Café at sunset is a must.

It is quite difficult to explain exactly my experience; to analogize, it is as if I have been telling a story I once remembered so clearly as a kid, as clear as real life. Every time I retold this story, something was added to it or taken away; and so everytime I retold this story, it felt less true, less authentic, like I had never really known it before. So once I began seeing characters and objects from this story again, things slowly came back to me, still faint but ever so familiar.

Unlike my European escapades where walking was a must, we drove everywhere; it was a blessing and a curse as the heat could kill, but I had to absorb everything in 5 seconds or less. Even so, for the things that took more time, like going to the supermarket or meeting my father’s friend from high school, I was like a sponge in water.

St. Catherine - Flat Bridge: on the road.

St. Catherine : on the road to Flat Bridge.

Conversations had more depth, people and places had more features, and my memories had more flavour. I concluded then that, in all my denial as a proud immigrant against acclimatization, I could now properly justify my multinationality as the proof was right there.

I did indeed live a part of this story, but a long time ago; when trees grow, their roots stretch out, reaching ends once unknown to that same trunk. So I may have lost my accent, and I cannot easily differenciate between uptown and downtown as other locals; but my roots all started from the same spot that I can and will always return to.

It never hurts to learn what you have always known.

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music of the Moment:

You Get What You Paid For.

I hate customs. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. But then… I like it too (to a different, smaller extent).

And yes; in speaking of customs, I finally commenced my travelling yesterday morning, and it really was nothing short of an adventure.

So, what’s the first stop of many to come in the near future?
HOTLANTA – formally known as Atlanta, Georgia in ‘the land of the free’, USA. I have never been to Atlanta before (or much of America, for that matter), and this trip holds the purpose of a vacation and exploration; so after non-stop working for the past two years, I figured this is a much needed stop.

A few glimpses of the first arrival..

A few glimpses of the first arrival..

The title of this post is “You Get What You Paid For,” and yesterday’s mobile fiasco was the result of just exactly what we we paid for. It’s not just about where you’re heading, but how you get there, and my family and I chose the cheapest possible way.

Now, often times, cheap can be good. For me, the motto is “Cheap IS Good.” But that motto was very much incorrect this time around.

We decided to take a Coach bus across the boarder and then fly out to Atlanta, which seemed simple enough. I was dreading the long and early bus ride initially, but found it to be quite convenient as I slept most of the way.

The downside to that was that I (being the meticulous, over-worrier that I am) packed a crap load of food in my knapsack to eat on the bus ride before the plane.

Never happened.

And this is where customs comes in. All went well when we were stopped and checked at the border; once we arrived at the airport, however, I knew that trouble was coming. Ever since the feathers of law enforcement officers and airport officials have been ruffled with by terror attacks and mischievous criminals, everything is a danger hazard.

I know they are doing it for my and everyone else’s safety, but when a girl can’t even bring her MinuteMaid cranberry juice bottle into the waiting lobby, it’s like the sun ain’t shinin’ no more.

Okay, so that may be a tad bit over-exaggerated, but the fact of the matter is that things have gotten so tight, my somewhat angelic mindset feels like I’m already a criminal even before I’ve been questioned.

Yet the craziness continued as we got onto our plane. The airline we took as part of our cheapest-way-possible scheme was probably the worst I have ever taken. No. It is the worst I have ever taken and will never take again (after I take their plane back home on our return flight; wish me luck).

The pilot was just outrageous (and possibly intoxicated) and I actually had a few moments where my life flashed before my eyes during flight (yes, I said a few; not one, but a few). When the plane landed, the aircraft slammed against the pavement and was literally still flying WHILE on ground.

If this implies anything at all, no one clapped when the plane finally came to a halt.

Still, I am very grateful to have made it out alive and to be here, in the wonderful state of Georgia, appreciating the gifts life has to offer. The vacation has just begun, but the adventure continues…

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music for the Moment: