So, a camping in Florida.
Can it get more adventurous than that?
Corona Circus is doing well, it attracts lots of people. The show is being followed on television and though its running behind on Europa, a large following grows steadily in the USA as well.
Short interruption: when you read this, 4.5 months after we’d been in Florida, Geo and I have reached our destination. It was a tiresome journey with bits of patience and redirects involved and sometimes not wished for adventures, but at long last, we have reached Hungary where we are going to settle in an old farm house. It is our wish to be more self-sustainable while being in nature, surrounded by quietness and for the time to come ‘to have the world flow through me’, instead of the other way around.
Back to Florida. Our kickbike journey had become rather a fiasco. Without able to prepare and lacking the full desire a team need to have, we soon were halted by the inflammation of the tendons in my ankles. We sat it out in the woods of Gainesville until Covid19 hit. After 5 weeks in the woods we moved to a camping.
Always being the types to keep distance from most people, Geo and I still praise our fortune not to be caught in a small hotel room. Not even a big hotel room but no room at all. We are still outside. Arguable, a potty porter is not my preferred toilet, brownish matter sticking to the sides and everyone’s bowel movements on display is not pleasing to the eye nor nostrils. Especially not in the early morning.
But, so be it.
Not a fan of shaking hands, allergic to hugging strangers, Corona is a welcome change to the weirdos being attracted to this camp ground. We being two of them.
A camping is not what I desired, yet, the freedom suddenly becomes evident. The stress of being seen has lifted. Geo and I can venture out together and though trees are still a threat, one must believe the tree specialist did his job well and branches are unlikely to fall on my head.
We meet with the host of the campground, let’s call her Tanya. A smart and strong lady originating from Carolina who admittedly tells us all the creeps and oldies come to Florida. She immediately declares the world is crazy, that it is, in fact, about to stop existing, because of a meteorite banging into the earth, but that her garden is a safe heaven and no one need to worry out here. But a fire has to be kept going and glaring at the moon is something still extraordinary spiritual.
At first, Tanya seems to be a bit off, talking about Nibiru and Planet X. I have no clue what she is talking about and am not the least bit interested. She wished to be prepared for the end of the world, but she isn’t and so she keeps working, Corona assets. She is somehow prepared in other ways because she got 1000 rounds for a rusty pistol of her grandfather. And then, when April 15 has passed, she start to beautify the garden with heaps of solar and multi-colored lights.
She throws big pieces of valuable wood on to a pile, adds all sort of card-boxes, direct a large thrust of benzine on to it and sets the whole pile on fire. When laying in my tent suddenly the outside turns bright orange and I know Tanya started another pire.
Not being a fan of tiny lap dogs, her ‘only child’ is one such dogs, a Teacup Pomeranian with an ESA certificate. Emotional Support Animal that is, and how could the tiny creature be otherwise. Both Geo and I find it a cute little fellow and I am elated when this fluffy ball heads straight into my tent when I open the zipper (the weak lightweight thin derailing zipper I exchanged for a working zipper). Unfortunately, the only one who visits regularly, and sprays the tents is the cat Smokey.
Tanya always runs after her emotional support dog Titan, just when the tiny white rockets off to our tents early morning, screaming ‘Titan, Titan, Titan, come back’, her arms waving in the air. Followed by ‘sorry mister Geo, I am so sorry, sooooo sorry mister Geo. I really have to learn Titan some manners!’ We both start to adore Tanya, who harbors great motherly characteristics.
Each time the weather forecast predicts a tornado or a cyclone or a windstorm or excess rain Tanya invites me into her house. I soon find out that the weather forecast is typical American: overdone. Or, like most else in America, it feels somehow haphazard, only half true.*
We do have a few days with hard winds and much rain. Instead of sitting it out in Tanya’s house, I prefer to battle with the elements while listening to Mike Love’s song which totally hits the nail!
We both have come to dislike the USA in general and Florida in particular (although it is not a fair opinion, especially not because Florida is about the least interesting state to get a feel for the whole of the USA). Nevertheless, the set-up of Jacksonville seems to be done by an architect, if at all, who lacks any thoughtfulness about moderation, common sense, beauty and coziness. It is as if a bulldozer went about while the driver went off to one of the many drive-through fast-food eat-as-much-as-you-can establishments and finished off the job afterwards. The lushness of Florida is just cut away and mansions are plonked down. As many as possible. As wide as a dinosaur need.
Without a car its a pretty hopeless life. I even start to think that without medications life can be jolly despairing in the build-up parts of the USA. To go on a stroll with your dog and fetch a fresh bread? Forget it. To meet with an acquaintance and order a cup of coffee on a corner cafe? Forget that too. To pack the bicycle and head out for a pick-nick on a lazy Sunday afternoon? Better forget it. To decide for a quick dinner all right and head out to the pizzeria? Again, forget it. Tanya offers her car to us, to see the ocean or to go to a restaurant but we prefer rides with our kickbikes, sometimes to eat at a fast-food chain instead, always disappointing.
Slogans like ‘stay healthy, enjoy life’ at the pharmacy, the endless array of hospitals and the never ceasing flow of cars is very disturbing to me. Every time I visit the supermarket I witness sickly looking people. Most are unusual white, though we are in a semi tropical environment. Walmart has such an array of weird people that it is an amusing cabaret as much as it is troublesome to watch. Not only obese people sit in electric carts, scooting along the aisles, throwing items sold as food in the basket in front of the seat they sit in. Skull tattoos, black colors and empty sockets is what is to be seen. Unkempt couples emerging from behind their computer games, or so I imagine, lonely elderly watching the countless televisions at the media department and poor, little nourished, unhealthy looking folks buying pork and sugared bread by the kilo’s. Not to mention the guys standing at traffic lights.
I find the USA scary, something one might not ever notice when in the Mojave or badlands. The amount of military jets. Why? Any war will be won, especially not their own. The food with informative texts on the backside. Why? Its all rubbish, unrecognizable stuff impossible to nurture. People, numb and fearful, popping pills because the television advice them. Why? Towards a total dependency of the system.
I am aware that I am in a fortunate position where I am able to vent my opinion, one no one asked for. In no way do I want to offend, judge or feel superior. Merely plain lucky…
One of the few other guests at Tanya’s huge plot around the house is a couple from New York, stuck because of Corona. There is an odd male threesome from Georgia, who leaves and keeps returning. One of them dealing with health issues, driving his car to the potty porter, emptying his thin bowel movements, for me to witness day after day. One who is dealing with mental issues and just sits in a continuously collapsed meditation pose, the bottles of rum piling up in the bin. The other, a young self-employed physical masseur and divorcee with two young kids, intending to buy a plot in Florida and live self-sustainable. Most people are weird, probably Geo and I too, though Tanya comment us for our ‘real-life’ personalities: ‘You guys are different. Your character is steady, never fake or different on an other day. I really appreciate you guys. You’re calm and just real and always so forthcoming and helpful.’
Though many Americans could be seen as Europeans, they are not. There is definitely a culture difference, even though Americans may originate from Europe. Americans are so much more open, appreciative, well mannered (I am sheer surprised by the immaculate behavior of people from the South Eastern states), outspoken, enthusiastic and commendable in general. It is easier to be a traveler in the USA as Americans will approach you and open up to you, instead of being you who need to ask for favors. When we are out to either buy groceries at Aldi or Walmart we get compliments slung to our heads: ‘that’s a sick bicycle!’ or, less of a compliment, ‘go to your own side woman’ when I dribble from aisle to aisle in Corona circus. Most people are foreign to us. Not knowing how to react to one another. A Pakistani mom does not go by the same smile as would be the case in her hometown. For a South American woman goes the same. The Afro American has their own cheerful fashion (shower caps and bath slippers aside) and the Dutch certainly are cold and holding back. It seems ‘foreigners’, once ‘exotic’ or ‘frightening’, are reduced to a being with no outspoken attributes.
Not so mister Walden. He is an 80 (!) years young retired army officer, fought in wars by airplane and is an Olympic medal holder. Mister Walden is the neighbor of Tanya and sometimes calls out loudly to me, from the other side of the fence: ‘Goodmorning Fraulein Cindy, how are you?’
We came to love Tanya. Sometimes confused. Sometimes absent minded. Sometimes doubtfully energized. Overly helpful. Funny. Hugging in times where such things are ‘not allowed’. Working hard. Thank you Tanya, for accepting us in your garden : )
The landscape is foreign: shopping plazas, the sprawling brick-faced public school, the shingled houses, uncomfortably close to an another, on their grassy quarter-acre plots. The sign that says CHILDREN AT PLAY.* Geo and I are looking forward to get out of the USA, to get to our own soil, though that does not include the Netherlands or Germany. We are at the end of our motorbike/kickbike trip and long to settle for real.
The only thing to distinguish each building is a number and a name; to either side of it are more units, absolutely identical, each three stories tall, arranged a vast looping road. Tudor facades, tiny metal balconies, wood chips under the stairs. The relentless uniformity of it upsets profoundly, more so than even the hospital*. With so much time on our hands we made a list to clear our minds: where do we want to settle? We had South Paraguay, North Paraguay, Ecuador, Spain and Hungary on our mind.
Yet, we are still fully in the USA where many things are not allowed and restricted. While quite some people fret about the gun law, I wonder what about the sounds of car engines and Harley Davidsons? Or of hovering helicopters for hours on end? Or airplanes flying under the radar, giving minutes long instant heartache. Or liquor stores? Or the absurd number of dogs, often pit-bull related? Or the high amount of people skimping over the spectrum? Or the percentage depending on medicines? Or the fact that we think and act in such boxes? Or the plain insanity? That alone makes the want for a gun rational. Another issue that bothered me were the sizes of drinks (never a sugarless hot tea), menu’s and clothes. Upon entering Target I was surprised by the models showing their grand sizes on grand billboards above the sport department. Showing overweight models is rather an opposite of the sickly skinny European models, but equally discomforting.
Many flags flutter in the wind of the surrounding houses, American flags and those with the presidents name. Tanya asks me what I think about Trump, its a difficult question for someone who deliberately ignores media. Yet what I get to hear is not far fetched from common sense acting. I mean, how on earth can someone rule a country so absurd? The world is out of joint, and God’s ‘judgment’ will perform a great act of new creation through which it will be restored to the way God always intended it to be*. I think about the madness we live in, now with Corona lifted up to a level that literally everyone can see and even feel it.
After 5 canceled tickets we are truly able to board a plane. With the wondrous help of a willing lady, we got boxes on a computer screen checked which shouldn’t. Our kickbikes are checked in.
I dislike boarding the plane. Sitting in a capsule. Catapulted slowly through the air. Being placed in yet another foreign land. Foreign because strange, outside, alien and most of all, established… I take a vow: not to board a plane for sheer traveling.
Excerpts in Italic from ‘The Namesake’ from Jhumpa Lahiri and ‘Simply Jesus’ from N.T. Wright. A very positive note is that one can order books or anything else and receive them at one of the many points of pick-up.
April 2020, Gainesville, Jacksonville (and on to Atlanta, Amsterdam and Germany).
In case you want to know how to bake bread on a tiny stove with wood fire, read this post.
Here is more about the embroideryed pieces of fabrics you might have seen passing by.
Soon a post about the best photo of each state in South America and the USA and about the set-up of a kickbike for longer distances.