That's my seat!
Anthony gave us a taste of his life with his festival diaries and now he's back, giving us an insight into his adventures around the world as he heads off for 18 months of travelling.
Anthony reminisces about his road trip with an unlikely passenger as he travels down the Californian coast.
A gentle lick of steam rose from my coffee cup and wisped over my face as I tried to figure out what had just happened. Returning to my seat onboard a half-empty Surfliner train, I found a woman sitting in the very spot that I had been warming up for the last couple of hours: "Hi, sorry, I wanted a window seat," she said selfishly. An awkward moment ensued as it became clear that she didn`t plan on moving from A27 - the number on my boarding card. I reluctantly sat in the aisle seat and told myself that this was unacceptable. The train ran down the beautiful southern California coast and a window seat was the only reason I took it.
I should have known better than to trust wily Californians. We'd been gravely warned not to by a car mechanic who'd skillfully replaced the piece of shoestring holding up our exhaust with one hand. The other hand took care of more pressing matters, a cigarette. "You's be careful, lots of†heathens in that place," was the cryptic advice that we'd been given.
The advice to "stay safe" was a commonly occurring theme throughout our trip and always made us laugh. Whether it was the police officer wishing us luck after pulling us over for a dodgy manoeuver, or a family that we'd stayed with for a few days. It was always a goodbye followed with the warning: "You kids stay safe now!"
"I wanted to see America, but it ended up being much more than that. The landscapes and cities were extraordinary, but just like the six months working in Whistler it had been an experience that would stay with me forever."
After our heated introduction I started chatting to the woman who'd sat in my seat, her name was Valentina. To make amends for nicking my seat she promised to introduce me to the locals when we arrived in San Diego. We talked about my road trip through the States and I explained that despite its reputation, the only trouble we encountered was the odd toot of a car horn as we drove north of Roswell, New Mexico. It was here where we parked the car at the side of the road to listen to the Albuquerque weather station, while an outrageous racket rang through the car as it fended off an attack from brick-sized ice cubes. The broadcast warned that a tornado was likely to form in the storm north of Roswell, exactly where we were travelling through.
It didn't take us long to piece together the evidence - the excessive wind; the strange way the orange desert dust swirled in the air; the tumbleweed; the fact that we were the only people on the road. They were all signs that we shouldn't have been where we were. We weren't that scared though - it would take more than a tornado to stop the beast we were driving. Nonetheless, we didn't wish to show off and swiftly removed ourselves from the storm.
Despite stealing my seat, I liked Valentina. She said something that changed the way I looked at my trip. During the inevitable interrogation of what I was doing so far from home I had let slip about my 6,500-mile road trip through North America. "That`s quite an experience," she whistled. I hadn`t thought about it that way before; I wanted to see America, but it ended up being much more than that. The landscapes and cities were extraordinary, but just like the six months working in Whistler it had been an experience that would stay with me forever. It was at that moment that I decided to make the rest of my trip a series of experiences, rather than a sequence of seeing stuff. I didn't see Valentina again, but I've been told the scenery from the window seat was wonderful. I must remember to add her to Facebook.
Looking down at my shoes, I wiggled my numb toes and brushed the crumbs from my shirt. A pat on the shoulder told me it was time to begin the shuffle towards the exit doors of the plane. It was the first time I had ever touched down outside the Western world. A mix of lethargic, nervous excitement that can only be obtained from a sleepless night of travelling, came over me. For the next month I'd be staying with a local Guatemalan family and attempting to learn Spanish. It was time for another experience.