What we leave behind

Trip Start May 24, 2006
Trip End Aug 02, 2006

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Where I stayed
Kristina's House

Flag of Germany  ,
Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kaarst was a nice respite and a nice final stop along my journey. Originally I wanted to go to Dusseldorf/Kaarst for a few days, visit with Kristina (an friend back from my high school days) and then go onward to the Netherlands since it was so close. However, I had not yet purchased a ticket to get from Netherlands to London. The easiest way to get back to London would've been via EuroStar and the cheapest via bus or Ryanair. By the time I finalized my schedule (stay in Dusseldorf until night of 30th and leave to Netherlands), I found out that the options I wanted were not available for that day. Also it was not economically sound to go to the Netherlands either. It was too much for my final days. I wanted to finish the journey in a blaze and the Netherlands would've been it. But after being in Kaarst and visiting the open-cast mines, I realized that haste makes waste. My mind was so focused on going home that I wouldn't have really enjoyed the Netherlands and it would've made my return to the States very uncomfortable. I decided in the end to stay in Dusseldorf and just leave to London via Ryanair.

In Kaarst, I had a wonderful journey with Kristina's family to see the mines. Germany is more conscious of the perils of the government than we are in North America. We are oblivious, they are not. We saw a huge 30km? open mine for brown coal. Then we saw the coal burning plant. What was ironic is that there were wind mills near this mine. The size was just atrocious. To know that the land was torn and destroyed just for coal is disgusting. We also managed to pass through a few ghost towns as well. These towns were not abandoned because of the pollution the coal mines produced. These towns were abandoned because the coal mining company bought out these towns and forced these people out. And the government allowed it to happen. Hundreds of years of family and community and history wiped out just because brown coal existed far below the surface. Money was just thrown everywhere just to get this valuable coal. The coal was worth paying off the landowners decently to buy their homes (in fact some built new homes just to get compensated double), but I don't understand how the material value was that worth it. Was it worth it to have to destroy towns piece by piece and force people out and to dig that far below the surface just to get a little amount of coal? I don't think it was. And it sickened me.

Seeing this made me more environmentally conscious. That and reading so many magazine articles in National Geographic about "An Inconvenient Truth". I think I'll be making quite a few changes when I get back home. There's just so much waste in America. It's unbelievable to realize how much we throw away and how we don't value the little things we have. I think my stay in Kaarst really made me aware of how different things are in America. Germany was the country closest to the USA in my journey but the atmosphere was so different. It felt real. I think I had the most enlightening day there.

Now I have a long travel day ahead of me. Kristina and her friend will drive me to Weeze, where I will get a flight to London Stansted. Then I have to manage to get to Heathrow in the night. I originally thought I'll go to a hostel and get two hours of sleep and leave, but I think I'll just get to Heathrow early and sleep there. From Heathrow I go to Manchester, and then to JFK. In New York I have to get to the bus back to Philly. Then in Philly I take the RR2 to Chester and then a bus home and walking a few blocks. I'll be exhausted. I just don't know what I'll do when I get home. I've been living so differently and so efficiently (so few clothes) these ten weeks, it'll be different to readjust.
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