28.02.2012 - 28.02.2012
Friends told me, that backpacking isn't very popular in the USA. Most people wouldn't even have the slightest idea what it's all about apart from that you would hardly ever meet people who have done it themselves or know someone who has done it.
But even most people I know would drop down their jaw when I'm telling stories about how I travel. Still that's those moments which make traveling special for me.
When I was on my stopover in Houston on my way from Costa Rica back to Australia I was facing a 24 hours stopover in Houston. That was nothing which would make me particularly happy in this very instance as me and my girl-friend have been traveling Central America extensively throughout one month. So there were several possibilities for Houston:
1. staying and sleeping at the airport, reading books, struggling with the security who would possibly not be that happy with me sleeping in the hallway
2. going out and sleeping in a hostel, doing a little bit of sightseeing
3. couchsurfing, getting to know local bars, being lost in religious discussions with a drunk, and finally sleeping on concrete floor.
I planned the first but ended up with the latter. So how did this happen?
When I went through the customs the officer asked me where I would stay. I told him I planned on staying at the airport which he could hardly believe. So he emphatically asked me, if I "considered" staying at the airport hotel (very expensive) in a way, that made it very clear for me just to answer "yes" and letting him be at peace of mind allowing me to do whatever I want. This eventually ended up in searching for a hostel at the tourist information (which was very difficult as hostels were more or less all booked) and finally I had an address where I could stay for the night. After boarding the bus I eventually got into a conversation with the bus driver who had spent some time in Germany whilst serving at the Army. Then another guy joined the conversation as he picked up, that I'm going to the same direction where he needed to go. So he wanted to show me the way to my hostel. Having a little bit of a chit-chat I found out that he had also been traveling Australia before and that he also was on Couchsurfing. So I asked him "Well, this is kind of a random, spontaneous question, but would you mind having me over at your place couchsurfing tonight?" And he answered that he literally just had a concrete floor to sleep on, which was totally fine for me (and I had a more comfortable night, then in some dodgy hostels).
Having said that we went for a couple of pints around the corner, getting to know some really off-the-tourist-track places. Now visualize this:
I was entering the pub, with my big back-pack on my back and a small back-pack mounted on my front. As I figured that US-people tend to be a very talkative folk I was the center of attraction for everyone. "Hey double back-pack man, how's it goin'?"
We sat outside drinking our beer (2 beer and one coke by the way for 2$) where randomly a drunk chick intruded our conversation by asking us if we were religious and falling asleep straight after that again. A few seconds later she would wake up out of her delirium again and ask again. She did it repeatedly until finally she left.
Then whilst having some delicious veggie wraps in a Mexican restaurant I got into another conversation with the waiter. And then we were talking in Spanish which is a big thing in the south of the U.S. of course. Then again in Spanish also the waiter asked me whether I was religious. Seems to also be a big thing over here, religion.
The next day I would just get a nice student breakfast (toast and tea) and be introduced to the RICE university where I spent the rest of the day before I went back to the airport. The bus ride back to the airport was also very entertaining for me and probably for the rest of the people also. There was one guy talking randomly to all those people, which also seemed to be VERY American to me.
Today's lesson: Expect the unexpected.