31 August, Ireland to Chicago, USA
Flew out from Dublin and across the Atlantic to the West Coast of North America flying in over Canada, across Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario and down to lake Michigan and into Chicago (mid West). Newfoundland was completely uninhabited land. I was keen to see land untouched by human intervention. I wanted to see the natural topographical map with no signs of human life. It was fascinating to see what appears to be tundra, rivers meandering, pot holes of lakes in all shapes and sizes. There appeared to be a lot of water which would be the melt given it is summer. The lakes were huge from 38,000 feet.
As we moved across Quebec the signs of land use appeared and I found myself comparing the different farming techniques between the tiny plots of the Irish and the very precise square (larger) plots in North America. Then as we passed over cities the urban development was extensive. I was really impressed to see how large Lake Michigan was, a huge inland sea which I believe was caused by the melting of the glacial ice.
Chicago appeared a leafy city from the sky with a range of urban designs of mid to high rise buildings and your suburban style cul-de-sac although I was told this was not typical. The people I am told are very down to earth in the mid west. So that is good to learn perhaps similar to Australians.
The cityscape in Chicago is extensive. As I sit looking out the window from a 32nd floor building. I can see block upon block of city skyscrapers and the architecture I am told is worldclass. One of the media buildings looked like the one out of Superman.
There is a lovely river that runs through the city and it is overshadowed by so many different buildings. I even saw a car park that was like a honeycomb bee hive. Very different.
I am staying with two lovely people. My new friends Carly and Ross kindly allowed me to stay on their couch. Ross works hard in the finance area assisting buy up companies and Carly is formerly from the accounting/recruiting area but has decided to start a business to bring inspiring women together. She herself is an inspiring woman and you can see the twinkle in her eye, she is a leader and is brave enough to make it happen. I am also interested in this area and found myself dreaming about it and feeling inspired to help in some way. Making a difference takes courage but it is worth all the ups and downs as I only know too well. I feel that more women need to be heard as the world is in need of the feminine, more compassion and ideas for ways to change society, as it cannot go on in its current configuration.
Both of them took me out to an area of town whilst they went to the Cubs game (baseball). I walked around the streets, checking out the bars, shops and people walking past. I had to concentrate on the traffic flows as it is the opposite to Australia. I saw the different traffic lights, the illuminated hands and walking signals, the Chicago city police walking around and ordinary Americans walking the streets with dogs and mobiles. This is where much of the world’s aspirations are fuelled, many nations want to live like the United States, a sobering notion. I walked to Lake Michigan, this particular part of the lake had a nice park leading up to concrete steps that are quite large, too big for the elderly to make their way down to the water. I saw people sitting by the water, some jogging with electronic monitors (heart rate), many looking quite fit in this area. I wondered at the pace of life and how important looks are in getting ahead. I saw people on phones, ipods, walking alone or in couples. I saw both African Americans and Caucasians and wondered how they saw each other. I found people fascinated by my accent and I went into a Wholefood store that was environmentally friendly. My gut feeling was we need to go a lot further to become sustainable. This society is still very consumerist and there are many take-aways with throw away packaging. The US hasn’t changed in 25 years still the same patterns of life. I had hoped maybe they had become more sensitive to the waste, but it seems not. There are also many overweight people here, some excessively. I also note a level of fear as people don’t make eye contact. I found it hard to find eating places as there were many stores. I can see the emphasis on retail space. The sense of capitalism and the signage that expresses achievement I felt were undercurrents here. To be successful is very important yet there are many that fall through the net. That will be an increasing phenomena as the US is in decline.
This was my first glimpse of American society it was very interesting. I found myself getting the feeling I want to go to Central and South America, the natural world is calling me. A small walk through the park and some contact with old trees gave me that feeling. I no longer feel I want to live in cities, definitely that is a change within myself I have noticed.
My friends met me at the railway station and we caught the train back. They kindly took me on a walking tour around the city showing me river walks and giving me information. It was really nice and I appreciated their interest. We came back and I was exhausted again, closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.
How interesting it is to be in the United States. It is an interesting journey….