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12 sep201812

Clayton & Raleigh - First look at North Carolina

Clayton, Raleigh, United StatesClayton, Raleigh, United States
So I had to leave Colombia. Unfortunately countries never give you more than 6 months on your tourist visa even though I wasn't ready to wave goodbye to Guatape and my dziupla. I decided the cheapest way out was to fly to New York, which may have been in my mind ut not reality. After two weeks in New York I decided it was time to move as living in NYC is not the cheapest. I wanted to stay on American soil in hope that some of my work contracts I have been trying to get will come true and I wanted to be within short flying distance to potential interviews.

I scanned the map and after few conversations I decided to visit Sam - my roommate from times in El Porvenir, where we both volunteered for Honduras Child Alliance. 

Turned out he lived in Clayton, North Carolina, a small town 20 minutes South-East from bigger cities like Raleigh or Durham (the other Durham). I have to admit I was propa excited to finally see a different part of the US. First I had to endure 12 hours on a bus as I realised why pay $120 extra to fly if I can ride a bus, yes it's longer but it's not like I was in rush.

It wasn't 12 hours. More like 16! Our bus first broke down in Newark, New Jersey Penn Station. Apparently we didn't have breaks. Everybody started wondering how the heck did we manage to lose our breaks right at the station parking space but not earlier? The driver tried to get somebody to fix it but they failed, so there was nothing left but wait for new bus to come from New York. I think I was the only happy person on this bus - because that gave me time to stretch my legs, write a bit in my journal, and just enough to take a glimpse at Newark. I tried to contain my lack of sadness to not get other passengers angry as they had other places to be. One guy was travelling all the way to Atlanta for a meeting he was supposed to have at 9am next morning. I think he barely made it but surely didn't have time to take a shower... 
I think after 3 hours of waiting we finally went on our way.  After few hours it came to our attention that we have to stop in Washington D.C. because of the need of changing the driver as our current our will have been driving for too long and that's against the law. People didn't like it. We had a dude on the bus that started shouting back to the driver (while he was driving) that he (driver) should have told us earlier what was going on. The argument didn't lack the f-words and was quite entertaining for me, just like last time I kept it to myself.

The first weekend (since I arrived at 1am Friday was already gone) I spent with Sam getting know my way around the new place and familiarising myself with my new situation. That is always the best part of coming to a new place, getting lost here and there, looking at people, their behaviours, and more. 

One thing struck me immediately and that was the lack of pavements. We lived 20 minutes from the actual town so when Sam was at work I had to walk everywhere. But as you know me by now walking is preferable to me anyway. When I needed to go and buy some groceries I had to walk about 20 minutes along a highway. I am sure people in cars had some laughs or at least head scratches thinking what the hell this dude is doing walking. 
My favourite, no need for pavement since you are not supposed to cross the road
I have to admit that during those two weeks I got the feeling that Clayton as a town was rather high-income families but then I discovered parts of the town with low-icnome housing. How could I deduce it? I always look at the cars by the houses. When you think about it, it is a very good indication of a household income and the landscape of cars produces an image of the cost of the housing. So far it has been a fair indicator wherever I have been.

My first week was also my last week with MovingWorlds so I focused on work. Sam was getting ready for his MCAT exam the following Saturday. 6-hour step towards a medical school - yes I didn't even know there is an exam in the world that would last that long! While working at home I also needed to get out of the house a bit. Nothing makes me happier than a good walk in search of a coffee house with good wifi where I can do some quality work. 

Turns out Clayton only has one but what a one!  Boulevard West is simply the best cafe I have been to since I left UK or even well beyond that! I have spent there countless hours working, studying, writing, listening to live music, and even playing Blitz!
It would be difficult to list a thing that is not perfect at that place. Good selection of plant-based milks (coconut, soy, and almond), the decor is amazing: wood and a bit of steampunk, and also an outside area with lights, artificial grass, make it a pretty spectacular place.. 
Outside patio at Boulevard West
Is it not simply beautiful?
That week has gone fairly quickly. It was sad as I had to say goodbye to my MovingWorlds family and became without a major thing to do first time since I left UK and if you've known me for more than 2 years you know it well by now that I am really bad at being lazy and doing nothing. One theory says we are afraid of boredom because it forces us to really be with ourselves and find out who we are. In a way it makes a lot of sense but there are activities that can still be engaging, not boring, but also not exhausting. I remember when I worked a lot with wood in Guatapé I was happy as it was an awesome activity but also very meditating. Personally I can't stand the idea of me wasting time on doing nothing. I have to do something, for myself, for others, for the planet, as long as I'm doing something. 

This led me to decide to go for a small roadtrip on Sunday. Since I was very close to Durham, NC I could not pass the opportunity to visit "The Other Durham" as I started to call it. I miss the original Durham, after all I would see it for almost 6 years pretty much every day on my way to work, gym, or shopping.

There was, however, one crucial problem. No public transport! In Clayton you stay in Clayton, forever, unless you have a car as I mentioned before. We have searched everywhere if there are buses, trains, anything but unfortunately to no avail. Sam was away that weekend, hiking with his girlfriend so I had to come up with something. Nothing apart from hitchiking came to mind at first but eventually I ordered Uber. Normally I would stay away from Ubers and Lyfts as I feel obligated I need to talk to the drivers but turns out nowadays I am okay with that. I ask them about the area, they ask me about my travels, and considering it has been some time I do have a lot to talk about. 

On our way to my destination, Raleigh (capital of the state), I saw a sign about a fleamarket, to which the driver gladly took me. You know me I never pass a fleamarket! This one was spectacular! People selling everything they don't need but had stashed in the attics or basements. From baseball cards, furniture, medals, postcards, to clothing, pictures, toys, and more. At times like these I wish I didn't have to be able to contain my whole life in a backpack but then again it does prevent me from spending money so I guess it's not that bad :)

Our first stop (the driver showed me tha fair quickly) was this "snack guy", who sells snacks very cheaply. You can find anything from oreos, pretzels, oatmeals to sweets (candy) and drinks. Too bad when I looked at best-before date some of those packs had 2016 written on it but I guess it didn't matter too much.
One of the things that made me go "woooooow" was this typewriter with a perfect note to noisy humans who like to leave their human oils on such artefacts.
Another charming display

I walked around for two hours just looking at some of those amazing things and watching people bargaining but since my main destination was Durham I made my way to downton Raleigh..

Took a bus and felt much better than in a car. Don't know why but I do like public transportation. You get to see a lot, sometimes observe people's normal every day lives but it's still quicker than walking if time is a constraint. I think trains are my favourite but the tracks in the US are scarce, not like mainland Europe where trains were primary transportation of many things during the war.

Downtown Raleigh had its own fair. Turns out it was The African American Cultural Festival. The colourful outfits, jewelry hand-made in style from the African continent, and a lot of food to enjoy. 

The Afro-American population in Raleigh was at 29.3% according to the 2010 census {"url":"", "type":"www","date":"12 September 2018", "author": " World Population Review", "title" : "Raleigh, North Carolina Population 2018 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs)"},  so it is very important that they celebrate their roots by sharing it with everybody.
Art was also popular sight between the stalls
Raleigh, along with Durham and Chapel Hill are also home to the largest research park in the country {"title":"North Carolina - Wikipedia", "author":"Wikipedia","url":"", "type":"www", "date": "12 September 2018"} -  Research Triangle Park, thanks to the major universities in those cities: NC State University (Raleigh), Duke University (Durham), and University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) {"date": "12 September 2018", "title":"Research Triangle Park - Wikipedia", "author" : "Wikipedia", "url": "", "type": "www"}

Another part of Raleigh I wanted to see was a little park around the building of NC State Capitol, aka Union Square, building erected in 1840 in Greek revival style that currently is a house to the governor of North Carolina and was names as a historic landmark in 1973. {"type" : "www", "date" : "12 September", "url" : "", "author" : "Wikipedia", "title" : "North Carolina Sate Capitol - Wikipedia"}
Monument of the Veterans
Worth Bagley Memorial
 Charles Brantley Aycock Statue - did not get very lucky with the surname!
After a walk in the park I made my way to the bus station to take a bus to Durham, about which I will write next time. Ciao!
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