5.30am! A sleep-in! Woohoo! Finally after ten days on the go, with varying starting times, I finally get a sleep-in, on a train no less! Last night as you may recall we hopped aboard the Sunset Limited that runs from Los Angeles, through Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson) into New Mexico, Texas and finally arrives at New Orleans – which is our destination. So after a relatively pleasant night’s sleep I woke still earlier than what the alarm had been set for, but for me, that’s pretty good, on 30mins early! A quick foray downstairs revealed that the towels were absent, so came back upstairs and broke out the chamois again, and darted back down for a shower, alone and uninterrupted – unlike the previous day, yeah, didn’t tell you about that. 3mins in to yesterday’s shower and I nearly had a shower-buddy. Some incredulous dude outside the shower/dressing-room decided to pick the lock, because obviously he was the only person up that early and thus the lock must be faulty, and attempted to enter the room, only to have me bark a rather angry sounding warning that if he wished to remain a ‘he’ then he’d better back his sh*t up and wait his f****** turn! Doors were shut and relocked rather promptly as a result.
So showers completed, J woken nicely, rather than my customary ‘Piki-bounce’ alarm system and we were headed to breakfast. That’s about when we realised where we were. In the middle nowhere. I still don’t know exactly, but it was flat as a salt plain with mountains in the background and not a single sign of life to be seen for miles around. We shared a table with an older German couple who were almost finished completing a similar trip to ours, they’d started at Houstan (Houston for those not dialectically challenged) and would be flying out of there later tonight. They’d been on the rail network for almost a month, and between their limited English, and our even more limited German we managed to muddle through with a few laughs.
Shortly after noon (and lunch!) we crossed the NM and Texas border and very promptly found ourselves crossing the Rio Grande River and looking at the Mexican border. A stark contrast between a country that has so much, and one with so little, separated by one single ringlock fence seemed rather bittersweet. We didn’t need to wonder why they would risk so much at the chance of a ‘better’ life, from what we could see, on the surface there wasn’t a lot they’d really lose. We couldn’t help but draw comparisons between here and the ‘boat people’ back home, that refugees, real ones, not the million dollar investers wroughting the system ones, really are in an awful situation, where there are no simple or quick solutions. Ultimately it reminded us of how lucky we are, how many opportunities we have and that we really have nothing to complain about.
On through the afternoon we traveled, marvelling at the size of Texas, as night drew on it wasn’t hard to imagine that when we woke the next day things would still be the same, that it wouldn’t be until later tomorrow afternoon before we see Louisiana and her bayou’s come into view. Once again we’re dreaming of the Mississippi River, of paddle steamers and jazz bars, of Bourbon Street with all it’s history and of course, the sweet goodness of some fresh beignets.