Supper time on board the Amtrak train from New York to Chicago. Wild rice, trout and a medley of vegetables
The Hudson river (above) was our companion for a good while on the Lake Shore railroad.
Every meal time, we sat with different people. Several asked me about the British health care system. I said: “I bless the National Health Service.”
Socialism has a bad rap in the US but there is nothing to be scared of. It’s simply about society sharing the care of its citizens, especially the vulnerable ones.
This is my first time in the US.
We had flown from the UK to New York.
Going by train from New York to Arizona was initially for green reasons.
It was also more scenic, more convivial, more educational and also allowed more natural adjustment to time differences.
After sleeping on the train, we changed at Chicago. Like New York, it reminded me of European cities.
But the landscape became less familiar after Chicago.
Our conductor on the Southwest Chief gave us hot flannels, a welcome hangover from the days of steam trains.
We sat in the observatory lounge and watched the landscape change.
Agricultural fields of corn (see above), but few houses or people.
You get a lot of land for your money in the Midwest, said one passenger. But, he explained, it suffered from water shortages. There was competition for water between the states and much water went on golf courses.
The conductors had great lines of repartee and wit, such as:
“In a few moments we will be reaching Raton, New Mexico, and time for a brief smoke break. Have a few puffs on that cigarette but don’t wander far from the train or you will become a hitchhiker not a passenger although the good news is – there is another train in 24 hours.”
The landscape changed again after Albuquerque where we stopped for an hour in the intense heat, and an unexpected anti-genocide exhibition,
One Million Bones.
I fell in love with the railroad and big skies, the America of much loved novels.
I felt touched by the people I spent time with hearing something of their stories and why they are travelling: grandchildren, graduation, loss of loved ones.
I also had great chats about food: cinnamon in porridge; beer batter for frying flounders, and lavender and chamomile for restful herbal tea.
I feel sad how people from different countries and cultures can get divided from each other, through the iniquities of a profit-before-people system.
It took us two and half days to reach our destination in Arizona.
It was a privilege.