23.07.2012 - 26.07.2012 34 °C
My experience on the greyhound (the US national bus service) was one that shall not be forgotten quickly. I arrived at the Washington terminal 2 hours ahead of my scheduled bus, not wanting to fall foul of greyhounds advice to arrive an hour early and partly because I had nothing else to do that evening. It was a miserable sight, rows of plastic grey chairs, panhandlers wandering around and staff who looked like they couldn't wait to get out of there. I bought a Jamaican patty at the cafe and then wished I hadn't, quickly wrapping it back up in the cellophane it had been handed to me in. A woman came up and asked for change to buy a banana cream cake (very specific of her I thought) and I offered her the patty instead. She looked at me, laughed and said no thank you. I have to admit, I felt a mixture of guilt and outrage. I thought I was doing the right thing.
After waiting an hour and a half, in which nothing much happened, I joined the line to board my bus. Now greyhound have something called express buses which I had initially taken to mean they got to their destination faster. However, as I later found out, they were actually a kind of business class service in which you got bigger seats and free wifi. Trying the wifi out though, it's not something I would gladly pay for in future. It was spotty at the best of times. The seats were comfortable however, and I settled into the first part of my journey ( Dc to VIrginia) with ease. We got to Richmond, Virginia at midnight where I knew I had to get another bus to take me to Virginia. It was scheduled for 00.01 and I was there 5 minutes earlier. Somehow me and another dude who I was keeping an eye on because I knew he was also going to Atlanta managed to miss the damn bus! I went to the service desk and she very helpfully transferred me on to the next bus due 3 hours later. I mentioned about the other guy needing another bus but unfortunately I had been given the last ticket. For the 2nd time that day, I felt a twinge of guilt and for some reason was going to offer the guy my ticket. However, I realised that this was pure stupidity and settled down next to him as he formulated a plan to get home.
The next 3 hours passed fairly quickly as we chatted about all types of things. I couldn't shake the fact that he seemed to be coming on to me though- offering me coffee, wanting to find out all about my life, asking for my Facebook. He was a 50 year old guy who evidently had children but the fact he had just returned from a HIV rally in dc did nothing to lessen my opinion that he was interested in me. The time came to get my bus and I was grateful to him for having kept me company. He assured me he would be in touch.
The next part of the journey was the longest and I should have slept but I couldn't get comfortable. At about 10 am, we stopped in south Carolina and I started chatting to the guy who had been sleeping next to me. He was doing a similar thing to me but in a more interesting way, staying at peoples houses through a site called airbnb. He was gonna be in new Orleans at the same time as me, so we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet then.
Nothing much happened in Atlanta suffice to say I went to coca cola world which was corny as corny can be but also fairly interesting in some of its depiction of popular history. E.g. They had a letter sent from a soldier during ww2 to his parents asking them to send coca-cola. However, the rest of the letter which described troop life and asked about the family was far more interesting. Also went to the Georgia aquarium which was incredible. I'll put pics up for that on fb. Besides that, the only other interesting thing was meeting a boy who was selling his hip hop album which I bought with loose change. He was surprised to find I was from London mainly because of my Adidas trainers. And thus my Atlanta leg ended with me still thinking Americans are pretty insular.