I close the door of my room and walk down Broadway, a mythical name. I turn on the left and carry on the pavement of the 5th, then Madison Avenue, mythical as well. A few steps further, that's a kaleidoscope of colours which livens Times Square. I start again walking, squeeze between the New Yorkers in a hurry to reach the financial district located at the south of Manhattan island. I tread alongside Wall Street before heading north towards the barren area where the twin towers of the World Trade Center rised 8 years ago. Because of the world economic crisis, the winter sales exceptionally began before Christmas in order to boost the household consumption. One of the stores displays a « Recession Special » sign and sells suits for 60$. New York, it's a state within the state. Extremes cross at each other in the total ignorance. The golden boy who handles big money and the homeless who fights against the cold of the winter. My feet are next to the yellow taxis and my eyes slip onto the endless lines of the skyscrapers. New York is also a symbol of heterogeneous communities who live together. No less than 80 languages are spoken here and by crossing the street I pass from Little Italy to Chinatown.
To announce the Christmas holidays and suddenly cut my 6-month life with a swim suit and a pair of flip flops, the snow invited itself. Some light snowflakes fall down by the thousands and cover Central Park. During this trip, there are cities I gladly fled just after a few hours and there are others, like this one, where I didn't stay enough. I have the impression of having flown over the streets and dashed off my experience. But that's probably the quintessence of the big cities which attract so many people and we would like to discover for a longer time. My round-the-world trip ends in the impersonality of a megalopolis. I become again “the man in the street” with this little twinge of sadness because I lived a hell of a wonderful adventure.
Keyword - capitalist madness -
Saturday 20 December 2008
Sunday 14 December 2008
One of the greatest ever-built human works lies at about ten kilometers from Panama City. Started by a French company and ended by the Americans at the beginning of the 20th century, it's more than 200 millions tons of rock which were excavated to build the Panama canal. We may pay tribute to the workers, mainly coming from the West Indies, without whom, the achievement of this Pharaonic project would be remained in the head of some megalomaniac leaders.
The canal counts 2 lanes of 3 giant locks. And to go through, the hull of the ship must respect the Panamax norm that is to say about 300 meters long and 30 meters wide. A size which seemed unreachable when the canal was opened, almost one century ago. But the elements changed and the Panamanian government, who took back the sovereignty over the canal on the 1st of January 2000, plans to invest several billions of dollars in its extension in order to double the capacity of container ships and to make sheep's eyes at the shipowners to cross the country.
Today, a cruise liner gets into the first lock, the Miraflores lock. No less than 2500 people on board and a lot of onlookers appreciate the play of the sluice gates which makes the sea colossus go up and down. A relatively short stop which will cost the modest sum of 275 000 $. A drop of water into an ocean like the land immensity that surrounds the canal.
Tuesday 11 November 2008
As I take my plane towards Los Angeles where I stop over in, I turn over one of the most beautiful leaf of my round-the-world trip which will have lasted almost 2 months from Fiji to Vanuatu and Hawaii. An entirely blue leaf smudged with a cluster of intoxicating ink stains like all these islands, archipelagos and atolls of the Pacific Ocean. But, unlike the blackish medallions which splashed over my leaf, these bits of lands have their history, their people, their traditions often blending exhilaration and laid-back atmosphere. Before leaving for my long trip, all these islands seemed unreachable and hard to pinpoint on a map, my view evolved and I filled up my pouch of memories for a whole life. From now on, I change scenery as I land in the tumultuous city of Cancun where I meet again Armelle after eleven weeks of separation.
During the 70's, property developers and government were seeking a place on the Caribbean coast to create the counterpart of Acapulco (seaside town on the Pacific). They set their heart on a long strip of white sand, they built roads and infrastructures, buried pipes to bring drinkable water and established Cancun. Today, despite the regular cyclones causing terrible damages, the touristic success is considerable and widely goes beyond the of-that-time property developers' forecasts. The disfigured coastline by the hideous concrete-made parallelepipeds doesn't take away the main thing in any way : a plaster-like sand watered by a turquoise-blue water.
Since we arrived, the Mexicans are really nice and very far from the caricature of the nasty Latino who haunts the Hollywood movies. However, despite the hospitality of the people, a seaside resort remains a seaside resort. That's fortunately possible to escape these horrible palaces by taking a shuttle which drops us off on the soothing isla mujeres, half an hour from mainland. On the spot, the ambiance is relaxed and to be in fashion, we must drive a golf cart. No risk to exceed the speed limit but we drive at a pleasing pace to discover all the corners of the island. At the south point, dinosaur-like iguanas warm themselves up on the sun-kissed stones. Down below, this turquoise, which printed into our retinas, invites to swim. Not the last bath for sure into an about 28°C water.
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