Alright, so a lot of people have been giving me a hard time for not updating this blog too often since I arrived in Texas. BUT, there is a pretty good reason for that. It really is like I am on two completely separate vacations during my time in the US. The first half was action packed and I did something every single day, whilst the second half (so far) has just been really relaxing. We’ve not really done anything since I got here, just relax, hang out, play the Xbox and party all night :)
The other night we went to a bar/club called Marcopolo which was pretty cool, it was packed full all night but I met some really cool people and proceeded to party with them until 7am. Yesterday we went bowling during the day, had some pizza then went over to Megan’s house and had a casual few beers. It was a really great night and we all just talked the night away. Dan’s mother has been incredibly generous during my stay, cooking big breakfasts everyday and just being there for anything that we need which is hugely appreciated.
I think being in El Paso is great, but it’s definitely more the people than the place. I’ve spent pretty much all week indoors just hanging out with friends but it’s been just amazing.
Texas- Day 1 & 2
Yesterday I departed San Diego, said my goodbyes to Eric and flew down here to El Paso, Texas. It was a flight from San Diego, via Phoenix Arizona (where it was 112F/44C) and onwards to El Paso. It was so great to see Dan at the airport, he has been one of my best friends for the past year living in Edinburgh so it was a wonderful reunion. We went back to his place where I then met up with Angela, another great friend who I hung out with a lot in Edinburgh.
On our first night Dan’s mum took 4 of us out to dinner at a restaurant called the Great American which was great. Huge portions and really tasty food. I have around 6 or 7 friends in the west Texas, southern New Mexico area and another one of them, Megan, called us up after dinner and invited us to join her and a couple of her friends for drinks which was awesome. We hit up a couple of bars in the “West Side” and all went home rather merry. A great first few hours in Texas!
I’m very fortunate to have a big double bed to sleep in whilst I’m here in EP which is awesome, so I had a great nights sleep and slept in until around 11. Dan and I just hung out, played computer games then played frisbee in the evening. Things down here are done at a much slower pace, which is nice. It’s too hot during the day to spend too much time outside so most of the day we just hang out then in the evening, once the sun is down, we go out and do something. I’ll keep you all updated again soon!
This was my last day in San Diego before heading off to Texas the following morning. I woke up at 10 and did some laundry so that I can go to Texas with everything freshly washed… it’s almost like starting a second vacation. Anyway, you guys don’t wanna read about my laundry activities. Today I went skydiving.
My jumped was booked for 3pm so I turned up at around 2.30 to be safe. I read and signed a huge waiver form, the premise of which was basically: “If you die, it’s not our fault”. I was pretty chill about the whole thing in the run up to it, but that form wasn’t exactly reassuring. I met my instructor who I’d be jumping with and he gave me a brief explanation on what I should do on exiting the plane. I got harnessed up and waited for our plane to take us up. The guy who I was jumping with was extremely cool and I also hired a camera man to jump with us. He had this helmet with both an HD camcorder and camera attached to the top so he could capture the whole thing. As we were flying up to 13000ft, we were right on the border between the U.S. and Mexico and it was crazy to see the difference in living conditions from the air. On the U.S. side, nice roads and big houses… right across the border in TJ, Mexico it was all shanty towns built into the hillside.
We reached 13000 ft and the pilot shouted, “Tango Tango Tango” and we made our way to the open door way. There were 4 other solo guys in the plane with us and they all jumped out first so we were last to exit the plane. We both knelt down at the edge, the camera guy was already on clutching on to the outside of the plane… then one, two, three…. we rolled out. The guy flipped us round so that we were on our backs and I could look at the plane, it was insane how quickly the plane just disappeared upwards. He flipped us back over again and we just free falled belly down at 138 miles per hour. The camera guy was flying ride along side us and he had these little wings attached to his suit which seemed to give him bird-like qualities. He would be facing me then all of a sudden he would just lean right and fly off for 200 metres one way then back again. It was hard not to see him in the same light as batman or superman.
My instructor then pulled the parachute open and we floated down. He let me steer us nearly all the way down which was great fun. Hard left and it would send us spinning downwards, hard right and we’d fly the other way. We hit the ground perfectly and all in all an amazing experience. It’s addictive, I have to go again soon.
This morning Will and I woke up at 6am. He asked me to help him out by playing in his worship band at his church in Huntington, CA and I was happy to help out. After a brief rehearsal in the morning we played the two services and we were free to head out at around 11.
I have two other friends living in Huntington (or the surrounding area); Melissa Dorman and Amanda Cagney. I met both of these girls in Scotland as part of my International work with my University. We had a great time in Edinburgh so it was fantastic to see them again on the other side of the world. We met up for lunch at around 1 and the five of us hung out for most of the afternoon. Huntington Beach was, for me, the most typical or stereotypically Californian place I’ve been so far. It was just like TV’s shows such as The O.C or 90210….. everyone is beautiful, drives extremely expensive cars and spends all day partying on the beach. It was crazy to see the way these people live their lives… definitely appears to be awesome but it got me wondering how happy they all were. Everyone had clearly made a huge effort, whether that be in the gym or through plastic surgery, before stepping outside their house and getting into their Lamborghini but it all seemed rather plastic and artificial to me. Or maybe I’m just jealous :)
After hanging out with Melissa and Amanda, Melissa’s boyfriend (Kyle) was coincidentally driving back to San Diego and offered to give me a ride back to Eric’s. This was awesome as it saved me from spending 30/40 bucks on a train ticket. Kyle was a great guy, a good rugby player and has aims to do social work after University, which I think he will do very successfully.
Pretty much as soon as I got in, at around 7pm, Eric, his room mate Oggy and I hit the beach for sunset. It was one of the best sunset’s I have seen in a while and I’ll do my best to get some pictures posted up soon. We went out to a sushi restaurant downtown that night, which was awesome, I had a great meal. Eric and I decided it would be a good idea to open the whisky that I flew over from Scotland for him and have a couple of glasses. It was the perfect end to my two weeks in San Diego. We went down to the beach at 2am, and arguably a little tipsy and just sat for an hour looking up at the full moon and the stars, listening to the Pacific Ocean. We talked about a plethora of subjects before turning in at around 3am. Just another awesome day in southern California.
So I’m chilling here in Huntington Beach, CA; just an hour outside Los Angeles in Orange County. Today was another really long day so I’m pretty much ready to hit the sack and it’s only 8.30pm! We woke up at 5.00am in order to make the drive from San Fransisco down here. I actually drove the whole way which I really enjoyed. We budgeted around a 7 hour drive but we made good time on the highway and got that down to 6 hours. The drive really made it clear just how vast this country is…. I mean I drove in a straight line, quite literally with my arms locked for 6 hours straight doing 90 mph all the way!
When we arrived in Huntington Beach, I attended a rehearsal for a gig I’m doing tomorrow with Will which will be good fun. That lasted a little over 2 hours and then I went to the beach for an hour or so and had a much needed nap. At around 6pm we cruised over to our hosts house, which are good friends of Will’s that go to his church. I was blown away by their generosity and first class hospitality. They own a really amazing home with a big outdoor kitchen which we used to barbecue some pork. It really hit me just how generous and kind people have been towards me during this trip. There is a quote that I read the other day that said:
“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal”
It’s so true. I have no idea how to respond to such generosity and kindness other than to be thankful and do my best when I return home to pass on that same attitude to everyone I meet. I have stayed in some amazing places with amazing people so far, and for that I am extremely thankful.
I return to San Diego tomorrow afternoon by train at around 4pm and I’ll hopefully have a relaxing night before jumping out of a plane on Monday, soooo excited! Alright, Peace!