I’ve been to North America three times and seen some of the world’s most spectacular scenery from the skyscrapers of New York to the majestic awe and stillness of the Grand Canyon, where the only sounds are the wind and the screech of eagles; from the blazing colours of autumn in New England, with its forests seemingly tinged by a giant paintbrush, to the artificial brightness of Las Vegas, seething with Sodom and Gomorrah-like debauchery; from the magnificence of the Rocky Mountains to the boiling and steaming beauty of Yellowstone Park, where one can see the planet in the making and buffalo, elk, bear and wolf roam free and to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, appearing out of the swirling mist in the bay, where Alcatraz took cruel custody of some of America’s most famous delinquents.
America is certainly a land of extremes, geographically, socially, culturally and politically. It is truly a melting pot of nations. Walking in Manhattan, one gets lost in the ethnic mix, mingling and brushing sleeves with all races, colours, styles and cultures. It is amazing to see so many different peoples apparently living in harmony together, under the one flag. And although we know it doesn’t always work and that there is still active racism (and not only in America), for the most part, it really does seem to work. However, America isn’t exactly what we see on TV. It isn’t full of perfect, slim and healthy-looking housewives, or Sex and the City women, or hunky drop-dead gorgeous men. It is full of Americans, ordinary people like anywhere else in the world and like no-where else in the world. Let me give you an example. On my first trip to the States, I spent an afternoon in Denver, a tidy little city, fluctuating one mile high on the eastern edge of the Rockies and the capital of the State of Colorado. We took a bus from downtown to the outskirts where we had parked and, in that short ride, I witnessed what America is all about. The other passengers were melted a robust black woman got on with a Caucasian midget, a hippy-looking guy with a Mexican moustache got on, bumped into me and drawled “Sorry ma’am”, a native American got off at the main square and … wait for it.. a blind albino, wearing a long trench-coat got on at the second stop, snow white hair and pale, and asked for someone to tell him when the bus reached a certain destination. Another guy, accompanied by a portable IV pole and tubes up his nose, replied that he knew where the albino wanted to go and would tell him on arrival. Which he did and the albino got off, only to realise (I don’t know how) that it wasn’t the right stop and, as the bus drove off, he shook his stick menacingly at the back of the bus, shouting obscenities.
A real life movie, deserving of Hollywood and free for all to see.
by Diane Lutkin