The Lost Dutchman is gone again. Usually I keep this blog for my excavation trips to Israel, but this time I’ll keep you posted about my trip to the USA. “What does that have to do with Archaeology?” you might be asking yourselves. Well, it does provide me the opportunity to catch up with some of my American friends down in South Carolina. There’s also the chance that we’ll be visiting some sites in Mexico, but that’s not really connected to the work in Israel.
Anyway, let’s get back to Saturday: Thanks to an ‘inside source’ – who shall remain nameless – we didn’t get jumped by the fact that our plane was delayed. It still sucked, but at least we knew it was going to. We changed in Dublin, where it turned out that it really didn’t matter much because there were more connections coming in behind us. To top it off I managed to score the ‘most awkward moment’ when was seated next to a girl with a perfect British accent on a seven-hour flight. What exchanges we had are straight British vs American. Five hours into the flight, we actually get to proper talking and we figure out that we’re both Dutch. Five hours of fooling each other without actually knowing it. To top it off I realized I didn’t even know who I was talking to until we buckled up for the landing in Newark.
|Le wild Jeff Koons appears...|
The next day we managed to make our visit to New York a mental rollercoaster. Starting off we went to the 9/11 memorial. Now I’m not someone who immediately started waving flags and going all “we have to support the USA, ‘cuz freedom” during that fateful day in 2001. It’s simply not in my nature to jump onto something like that, not in the last place because it happened 20,000 miles away. However, visiting the memorial and seeing all those names does make you realize just how horrible and tragic the whole affair was. Reading about whole teams of firefighters being wiped out; seeing how many people of all origins died; reading that at least three unborn children were among the casualties…it does something to you. We took the time to visit some of the places in the neighborhood, like St. Paul’s Chapel. Perhaps the most moving is the mementos, the ‘offerings’ that people left there from all over the world. It’s not a feeling that can be described in a few words.
|Overlooking the South Memorial Pool|
We decided to stack onto all that with a visit to the Guggenheim museum. Out in front was a section of the New York Marathon, so we joined in cheering on people who think that running for a very long time is a good way to freeze your legs off before the snows hit. The Guggenheim itself had a mixture of modern art on display, running from the ‘classical’ to the ‘contemporary’. As if all racking our brains wasn’t challenging enough, we layered on some vertigo at the Empire State Building. It ain’t cheap going up there, but was the view ever worth it: thousands of city lights as far as the eye can see. It was a good end to a first day in the USA.
|Go for the architecture, stay for the art.|
The next day we drove up North to cross the border with Canada for a visit to Niagara Falls. I got my first taste of driving an automatic gearbox under American road laws. Considering that everyone is still alive and the car doesn’t look noticeably worse for wear, I’d say it was successful. Niagara Falls itself is a pretty impressive feat of momma nature, throwing up columns of evaporating water that can be seen for miles. The sheer scale of the thing and the amounts of water coming down leave a lasting impressing.
|"Maid of the Mist"|
So there’s three days of visiting the USA. It’s taking some getting used to the way things work in the US: All mediums are large by European standards and some things that are nigh impossible to find in Europe can be bought without so much as a hiccup over here. Next on the schedule is a trip to Lady Liberty and then we are southbound for Atlanta, South Carolina and Florida. I’m looking forward to the warmer weather.
|New York, New York!|
The Lost Dutchman