It has been two weeks since my trip concluded and yes I had to start school right away, but I have also spent this time reflecting on and digesting my trip.
There are several aspects to the trip that I might have to break down into different posts: the trip itself, the university visits, the spiritual trip, etc.
The trip itself was mind blowing. Sitting in our cozy, provincial little corner in New England we don’t know or we forget how great, literally this country is. I was constantly in awe of the endless fields, the huge rivers, one after the other, the interminable trains, the thousands of eighteen wheelers, the miles and miles and miles of roads. The singular beauty of each state. The fact that I could visit eleven universities that offer a PhD in Spanish Literature is awesome.
But that is mostly geographic. More importantly was all the people I met. Everybody was genuinely nice, polite and friendly. Even people that might have been a little defensive or insecure quickly warmed up when I told them of my trip. One of the better examples was in Texas when I walked into a lunch place. I asked if I could have lunch and if we were on such and such road. A couple of tough cowboys in the back of the room asked where I was headin’. When I answered Arkansas, hundreds of miles away, their tone quickly changed and they became very helpful. Later that night at a bar near Texarkana another tough old cowboy asked threateningly “You ain’t from ’round here are you?” Minutes later he was buying me drinks!
That is not to say I did not have any bad encounters. Unfortunately both in Nashville (if I had to listen to bad country music all the time I might turn into a sourpuss too). One with a rude parking valet at a hotel and the other one with a rude (he might have been stoned, or drunk, or both), motel receptionist.
But those two were the exceptions, I had great conversations, and met interesting people pretty much everywhere I stopped and met someone: gas stations, welcome centers, universities, hotels, motels, shops, everywhere. Those people are the real find of the trip.