The back end of my time in the United States was all about the people. I’d travelled with some amazing people but the final person I stayed with wasn’t new. I’d met her in Bolivia right at the start of my trip.
It’s an odd, small world sometimes.
Right at the start of my trip, just when I was needing a pick-me-up I met a lady called Jen. It was a fleeting meeting but it resulted in the exchange of email addresses and the promise of a coffee in Phoenix when/if I ever made my way there. I mentioned her in passing at the time (Leaving Cusco for Bolivia – a bit of an adventure) but never really thought I’d see her again nor appreciated what she’d done for me. Combined with the various other people I met at the time they all helped me sort myself out and understand the travelling thing. Jen and I had talked a few times over the months as I picked her brains for places to visit in Ecuador and when I hit Flagstaff I fired her an email to see if she still fancied grabbing a coffee.
After driving down through Sedona I arranged to meet Jen in town – this proved to be a little tricky as I was in completely the wrong place. Well, I was in the right place, just not the place we’d agreed upon! Turns out that I’m not that good with directions in town but we managed to find each other and we proceeded to wander around. Jen turned out to be the perfect host and gave me a couch to sleep on and proceeded to act as a tour guide for the duration of my stay!
The main reason I extended my stay in the States was to see the American version of Halloween. It’s an adult holiday over there where everyone tries to dress up and there is one huge party – Phoenix didn’t disappoint. First of all Jen and I headed to a couple of College parties but the police presence was intense so we moved on to walk down Mill Road where all the main bars are. I guess the main action happens inside, but there was people dressed up as every character imaginable. It was great. My favourite was probably a group of people dressed up in Portal outfits (the cube and people with the teleport guns). I regret not taking pictures but for some reason I just didn’t have the confidence to do so. The end of the evening was at house party where I played Beer Pong for the first time!
On Halloween itself Jen had a party in the house and it was brilliant. Various people turned up and whilst it was subdued compared to the Frat parties in Los Angeles, I had a much better time. Jen has loads of great mates and we laughed, joked and chatted all night (even bringing out the squirty-cream and creating a new helmet for someone). A few of us then went inside the bars on Mill, but I was tired and to be honest I had more fun at the flat! Again, there is an obvious lack of pictures on my camera!
As for my costume – I popped to the local thrift store and bought a colourful wig and bad shirt. Combined with my hippy pants from Bolivia I was the perfect clown. Thing was, people commented on how bad the trousers were – they are mine damn-it! The only saving grace is that the trousers are actually my pyjama bottom and this was the first time I’d worn them outside the dorm!
My first American Football game
It’s homecoming and the college team, Arizona Sun Devils, are playing. We managed to get tickets cheaply from Craigslist and headed to stadium via the party outside. It turns out we were sitting amongst all the foreign students who are practicing their English and directly behind me was someone explaining the game. I didn’t realise just how different it was to Rugby until it was properly explained, but I still wondered what on earth is going on half the time.
It wasn’t quite the atmosphere I expected either. The only time the crowd came alive was when the ball was 1 yard from the Sun Devils end and Colorado had the advantage. The crowd roared at each attempt until the Sun Devils won. It was different where the students were, but the majority of people were quietly watching the game unfold.
The half time show wasn’t that impressive either with the marching band coming out and doing a number and prancing about. The cheerleaders were lacklustre and not quite what you’d expect (I’m told they are much better at the basketball). In all, I’m really glad I went and I had a great time, but team sports like that just aren’t for me!
More pictures of Phoenix can be found in the Digitallery album USA – Arizona – Sedona and Phoenix
Click here to load a map showing you the location of this post and images from the digitallery taken nearby.