From Greyhound Buses To Porsches

Trip Start Jan 30, 2011
Trip End Nov 16, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Friday, September 23, 2011

To add to the news that my hostel in New York has been closed down, the morning then presented me with a toilet that wouldn't flush, a bicycle seat that wouldn't adjust, and a woman in a Mercedes deciding that the confused-looking, sweaty girl with a map was a good person to ask for directions.

I’d planned on borrowing Catherine’s bike as she suggested and riding around the city for a leisurely morning before my trip to Dallas this afternoon, but as the previous utterances suggest it didn’t go to plan. After walking for fifteen minutes I had a waterfall cascading down my face, a runny nose, and an abundance of sneezes escaping my person; all I wanted was to go back to the house and hibernate until that two o’clock bus, but it wasn’t to be. The intrepid, and foolish, part of me kept exploring whilst the slightest of breezes whispered in my face, causing not a drip of sweat to dry, and I was reminded of Kathy on the train to Toronto who declared her need to buy new t-shirts because of the yellowing of her old ones. I was becoming Kathy.

I continued to walk and diced with death when passing a man with a strimmer who decided to turn around just as I walked by, because the owner had called the workers in for iced tea, after which I finally accepted my sweaty fate: I was doomed not to find the small array of shops Catherine had said were just down the road, and that I’d even passed last night on the way to the Indian restaurant. Their whereabouts failed me, and I sauntered on defeated over the pavements lifted by enormous roots and the muddy puddles caused by the numerous Hispanic workers cleaning their bosses’ gardens, ready for the weekend parties ahead.

Down but not out, I washed away the morning’s disappointments and headed over to the Greyhound station with my bags in tow, but even without the sweaty glow I apparently welcomed inquisitive stares as to why someone with so many bags would be on the streets of Houston if they weren’t homeless. I nearly went in the wrong direction to the station anyway, but was saved by the machine not accepting my coins and a local woman telling me to be careful because there were 'lots of crazies in Texas.’ She asked if I was Australian and on hearing I wasn’t told me we all sound the same so it wasn’t her fault; I lied and agreed before making my way to correct stop, ending up behind a man whose low-slung trousers, cowboy-like walk, and odour he emitted, all suggested he’d soiled himself, making me overtake take him at a speed my heavy load doesn’t usually allow.

I thought I’d stock up on a large drink before the hour-long wait for the bus, and as McDonald’s was the only establishment surrounding the station I trundled in with my backpack and immersed myself in the locals’ hangout, where the majority of people once again seemed to lack most of their teeth and where everybody knew everybody else. As I walked out with my 'Mickey Ds' paper bag I realised what a Greyhound cliché I was with my off-white t-shirt, hot-and-bothered demeanour, and large white McDonald’s bag. At least I knew the bag contained some non-typical Greyhound passenger food in the form of parfait and a latte, but as I was in Texas I didn’t think anyone would care either way.

I then found out the two o’clock bus was fully booked, and so I’d have to wait an extra three hours for the next one to Dallas, meaning I was doubly glad I’d got that large drink from McDonald’s. A little gem from one of my fellow passengers came at four o’clock in the form of ‘look, I don’t care who y’are, I just got outta jail, I just wanna talk to my sister and get my s**t'. Classy lady.

By this time my tickly cough and cabin fever had pushed me to look for an escape, and rather than spend $6 on a day-old sandwich at the in-house ‘restaurant’ I took my things across the road to McDonald’s once again in search of another drink and a chicken wrap, all for just $3.50; I know I should have opted for the wholegrain, tired sandwich at the Greyhound, but I just wanted to escape the station and get some fresh food, at least it wasn’t a Big Mac, though at $6.99 for some of the meals I wouldn’t be buying one of those anytime soon.

Rather than take my purchases back to the station to eat I took a pew in the restaurant, only to have a middle-aged black man with a gold tooth, granted an improvement on none at all, and a lisp asking if I like jewellery and pulling out a gold chain to twirl about, luckily I didn’t have on any knuckledusters and could say I didn’t, to which he oddly asked if I liked silk. I didn’t reply that time, and wished I hadn’t ordered the large iced coffee as it was taking forever to drink. He eventually stopped staring at me and left, only to be replaced by two more locals who thought it was once again fine to stare at me and my belongings; ironically, such meetings always happen just minutes after my brother texts me telling me to ‘stay safe'.

They were harmless, and whilst most of the punters in there seemed to think walking to the toilet was a good time to introduce themselves I was soon on my way back to the solace of the relatively safe Greyhound station.

The guards in the station clearly weren’t as inquisitive about me as the McDonald’s regulars as they didn’t bat an eyelid, instead choosing to make inappropriate jokes to the poor girl in front about having to do cavity searches, yet another example of a classy Texan. It often pays to be the ugly duckling so you can slip through the net unnoticed.

Whilst waiting to board I surveyed my nearest and dearest for the next four hours; a large man on the phone to his supplier about his heading for Las Vegas whilst the money he was owed in Houston was nowhere to be seen, a woman whose toenails were painted in different colours to signify which was left and which right, as well as demonstrating the penalty of having one too many Big Macs, whilst an employee at the station showed her commitment to the 1980s haircut the mullet, although I’m not sure it looked good on her back then either.

When settled in our seats, the driver who looked a little special, but even more so when trying to smile, assured us it wasn’t an express bus in any way, shape, or form, and that we’d be making every stop possible between Houston and Dallas, making me especially glad of my ability to sleep on demand. In between my naps I was treated to the intellectual ramblings of the locals as they discussed their approval of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory'. Note to self: never watch those programmes again, or if you do, keep quiet about it.

I arrived in Dallas to see the bright lights above that lit the chocolate stain on my off-white t-shirt, once again making me fit right in with the passengers. As I stood on the corner of the road, because I wasn’t allowed to stand in front of the building, I was asked twice for a cigarette, walked into several times by high black men, and surrounded by several cockroaches having their nightly sniff outside of the sewers. I hastily looked for my next Couchsurfing hosts and was glad to see two men pull up who resembled their pictures, fortunately the Porsche was indeed holding Rick and Kenny and I was soon transported from the grotty Greyhound station to the backseat of a Porsche riding along with two Dallas cowboys.

We arrived at the house after a few minutes of talking and having the cross in the road where JFK was shot pointed out, only to see it was a mansion. I was lost for words as I took in the high ceilings, enormous windows, magnificent four-poster bed and en-suite all for me. It was a long way from the couch, pillow and blanket in the front room I’d had for the past two nights; suddenly all the hassles of the day melted away.

We chatted over some rum and coke about their travels and mine whilst listening to a clichéd soundtrack of Glee, Kylie Minogue and Barbara Streisand, before all heading off to our separate wings for what could surely only be a blissful night of sleep. Oh, and did I mention George Bush lives just two minutes away?
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will you still be my friend on

Talk about how the other half lives, this goes to show that with your upbringing you can mix in any circle of society.

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