Monday, January 9, 2012

Entering the U.S...

A long queue, hundreds of people waiting, patiently. We pass them, Mike, Yazmin and me (Benjamin) with our 3 backpacks. they don't have any expressions on their face, they have been there for hours and yet, no anger, no frustration. They are used to it. All these people have a visa that grant them the entrance to the United States for one or two days only. It is different for us, the line is smaller for a longer permit. The border officer who receive us is really nice, he tells us his entire life while stamping our passport. He insists on the fact he has not always been a border officer, he has traveled and speaks four languages. We tell our story but the cost is the same for everyone. 6 dollars, Yazmin has some "safety money" and pay for me. There is no other legal way. The officer adds that "in this country, you have to pay to breathe".

The first steps in a new country are always doubtful...we don't really know the rules, written or spoken. "No walk on the freeway". Welcome to the land of the free...with its thousands rules and absolute no flexibility! We stand at the entrance of the freeway and surprisingly we get picked-up a few minutes later. An Israeli in a nice car who came in the US to marry his fiancee. Hitchhiking is common in Israel. He leaves us close to San diego, in a suburban area. Many roads, many cars...South California is well known for its traffic. We stand at the entrance of the freeway again but this time it is a police car that stops after a few minutes. A guy alone with a big gun tells us hitchhiking is forbidden in California. I ask him if there is any way to do it...the answer is no. We grew up with stories of traveling in the US from the Beat Generation and know we realize we can't even hitchhike...

We are quite disappointed with this unfortunate news. Moreover, Mike injured his knee and is now traveling with his guitar way to walk hours. We decide then to make an exception and take the bus to get to LA. It is the end of the journey without money for Mike since he will go back to England after Vipassana. I promise myself not to give up next time and find a way to hitchhike through California. Dave, a couchsurfer, is waiting for us in LA and brings us to a place where he is house sitting. Dave is really nice and looking as well for ways of life that are more sustainable. He is excited about the idea of dumpster diving and we decide to visit the same night the dumpsters of Trader Joe's, a organic supermarket. The United states are famous for its waste, over half of what they buy and produce end up in the trash whether it is at an industrial level or personal level. THe dumpster of Trader Joe's is a good example. Even if this chain of store try to be more conscious and respect the environment, it remains a capitalist company...trying to do profit, offering abundance of products not regarding the needs of the population...therefore, they waste a lot. We scavenge about 12 cans of delicious almond butter, salads, falafels, black beans can, blueberries, orange juice...We can't believe it. The next day we go to another dumpster and we find vegan soy cheese, tons of eggs, juices, squash, Pumpkin cans...Meanwhile we go to a belgium bakery in West Hollywood, a rich neighborhood and ask the manager about the bread after they close. They accept to give us what is left...kilos and kilos of a delicious organic and whole grain bread. We just can't believe it.

We had so much food that we prepared bags of bread and cheese to give to the homeless people on the street. WE ate like kings during these few days...happy and sad at the same time, witnessing the huge amount of waste produced by the stores. We can see a rise in the consciousness in this country but still, people are used to get what they want at the time they want and this cannot be sustainable. On top of this, Los Angeles is a crazy city...too much traffic, one needs a car to move for one place to another, the urban planning has not been thought to save energy but to ensure people buy cars. However we appreciate the diversity of the people, after the homogeneous mexican population, it is a pleasure to see so much diversity in style, colors and way of speaking. Venice beach is a good example of this diversity...there it looks that there are no prejudices, you can dress the way you want and say anything you want, no one will openly judge you.

We are on the move again, Vipassana is about to start and we are very excited about this new experience, a new journey inside ourselves...

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