Six weeks, eleven flights, six states, one one-week cruise and four countries (not including the USA). That is feeble compared with the Beatles’ tour of the USA in 1965 (twenty-five cities in thirty days), but they were much younger than we were (and probably flew first class). One (distant) relative looked at our itinerary and shuddered in horror. I’ll admit that the prospect of all the flights, airport security procedures and hanging around that was involved filled me with something akin to dismay, but in the event, everything worked perfectly.
Our main objective was to spend time with Ariel, our son-in-exile, and his new wife, Lisa, followed by visits to friends and relatives scattered throughout the USA. One of the results of WWII was to disperse our parents’ families to the four corners of the earth, with the USA playing a major role in providing a haven. Staying in touch with the various relatives hasn’t always been as easy as it is today, in the digital age of instant communication, but contact of some kind has almost always been maintained.
Thus it was that we were able to visit relatives and friends we hadn’t seen for several years, and it seemed to us that they all went to extraordinary lengths to make us comfortable in their comfortable homes, to get us together with other members of our far-flung family and to amuse and entertain us royally. Words cannot convey our gratitude to them all or express our joy at having been able to meet so many of them and simply just hang out together, and sit and chat and feel at our ease. In this way we were able to enjoy San Diego, California; Richmond, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland and New Orleans, Lousiana, in addition to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Despite the nasty stuff that appears in the news, America is still an enormously prosperous and varied country, with amazing cities of every kind. Las Vegas greeted us with its bright lights and pezzaz, but it also has its suburban life, similar in many ways to other US cities. In New Orleans all around our hotel in the French Quarter were jazz bands and street performers banging on drums, juggling or tap dancing at all hours of the night and day. Other places were more sedate, even bucolic in a suburban kind of way, though what awaited us in New York was far from rolling countryside. Everywhere we went we saw construction, both commercial and residential, under way, and most of the people we encountered seemed well-dressed and well-fed.
We also enjoyed a Caribbean cruise. The choice was between a week in New York in chilly November or a spell in warmer climes and the chance to visit tropical isles, so we decided to go for the cruise. We had already spent a few days in Mexico City, in search of the art of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and our visit happened to coincide with the legendary Day of the Dead. That was all interesting enough, but we also managed to squeeze in a very enjoyable (albeit exhausting) trip to the remains of the Aztec pyramids, thus satisfying our thirst for history, archaeology and art in one fell swoop.
Before leaving the USA we returned to Las Vegas to spend Thanksgiving with our new family, and that was quite an experience. Being able to participate, however modestly, in the massive preparations for the traditional feast was a privilege and a joy, and to sit down with eighteen other people at the beautiful table and partake of so many delicious dishes was an event the memory of which we will continue to savour and enjoy for many a day.
As for the cruise, well, that deserves an entry of its own.