Where do I start here?
Well, I'll be honest. Why did we end up cruising the US? Well, as ever, part of it was solely because 'it was there'. But the US was a bit different. I'll admit now that the picture I had of Americans wasn't pretty. It was mostly based around media coverage of politics and philosophy and, in truth, I really wasn't looking forward to the trip. In my defence, I thought I should really see for myself and try to understand why I had these preconceptions and indeed to see if there was any truth in them. So it was with some trepidation that we made landfall.
So six months later, what can I say other than I was completely and utterly wrong. Aside from the actual sailing, which was generally excellent, I have seldom ever met a more genuine, kind, generous, funny and proud people.
At first, how we were treated was almost embarrassing and to us, it seemed insincere. Generally, in the UK, when someone you have only just met, invites you to their home for supper, offers to drive you to the supermarket, the restaurant, the airport (sixty miles away), you feel the offer is made with the understanding that you won't really take it up. In the US it is 110% genuine. So much so, that often offence appears to be taken if someone can't help you.
In our time there, we were serially adopted by some of the loveliest people we have met, been offered cars to drive, lifts to 'anywhere', sacks of oysters, numerous delicious meals, help with work on the boat, weekends away from the boat, free docks, free moorings and most importantly to us, some fantastic company and friendship.
I include pride as its something we experienced that we feel is missing back in the UK. Its easy to almost laugh or feel embarrassed at people openly voicing pride in their country, but for us it was a welcome change. With pride goes a respect for both other people and the shared environment. Don't misunderstand me, its not some utopia, there are plenty of bad bits I'm sure, but it feels good seeing people who care about the place that they live.
What can I say? Of course nothing is perfect and this is no exception, but there are very few places in the world where I would generally be happy to live and call home and this was one of them. I arrived in the US with many preconceptions and left with as many friends and a huge slice of humble pie, which of course, I've eaten. Again.