It was an early start, as we got up and ready, and made our way to Manhattan to catch a Greyhound bus to Philadelphia, known as the "Birthplace of America", as it is the place where the Declaration of Independance was signed. On our arrival, the overwhelming feeling was how totally different it was to New York. Only two hours away, but so much more tranquil, relaxed, and slower. Having said that, Erin reminded us that it also has the highest murder rate in North America? Do I have that right Erin?
Alex and I spent the early hours of the afternoon doing the usual touristy stuff, like the Declaration of Independance Tour, which included the place where the final declaration was signed, as well as going to see the famous Liberty Bell. That is another story unto itself, but over time has come to represent freedom. I am sure a google search will give you greater insight.
The highlight of our day, was definitely meeting up with our beautiful friend Erin, whom I had the opportunity of meeting in 1999, in Bariloche, Argentina. As any fellow traveller would know, with travelling comes a lot of opportunities to meet a plethora of people, but there are always some who simply stand out, for whatever reason. Erin is one of those people! I was inspired by Erin's love of life, and zest from the day I met her, as well as her ability to just "follow your heart". Besides being a highly efficient and prolific business woman, Erin also makes spectacular jewellery, which she also teaches how to make, in classes all over the USA. Take a look at her web site, www.mateharidesigns.com
On top of all this, (to all you Aussies out there....yes, 5 more steak knives!!!) Erin is also involved in a project called Beads For Education, which helps young Maasai woman become literate, through education. I will be devoting an entire blog entry to this soon, but in the meantime, please take a look at the web site: www.beadsforeducation.org I cannot possibly stress or overemphasise the power of education, as it is ultimately what gives each and every human being power. We have all seen, on a day to day basis, how ignorance breeds fear. I truly beleive that education can overcome this. The flip side is, we all know how so many groups and governments like to keep people uneducated, and thus ignorant, and the fear that this breeds........surprise, surprise, leads to the increased power by the very people who supress them! Alex, and I have made a steadfast resolve that on this trip we will be "conscientous travellers" - to give something back to the world, which by simply travelling it for a year, we are taking so much from!
We did have some great food in Philly, and met some wonderful people. Friday night at "La Vez", a contemporary Mexican restaurant was great, as was the company of Brandon and Rosae, as well as Erin, of course! Hey Rosae, you keep in touch girl, your exuberance blew me away! We can change the world yet!
On Friday night we caught the train out to Chester Springs, where Erin lives. What a breath of fresh air - now this indeed was relaxing. Chester Springs really is deer country, and not very populated. Nothing like a good night sleep in the country! We packed lots of things into our weekend, including a trip to the Longwood Gardens (www.longwoodgardens.org), a huge area where we could walk around a number of differently manicured gardens, glasshouses and see some amazing flowers. The day was delightful, and perfect for a stroll.
On Sunday we visited the Brandywine River Museum, in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania (www.brandywinemuseum.org). Beautifully set on a river, it had several paintings from various members of the Wyeth family, probably the most famous being N.C. Wyeth, whose illustrations are famous for children's classics such as "Treaure Island". There was another temporary dispaly on the works of another famous character in the world of Modern American Art, Andy Warhol.
Back in Philly late Sunday afternoon, and sharing another great meal with Erin, at a place called "Pietro's Restaurant". The pizza was great and the eggplant parma better! A walk to the train station, and we all bid each other farewell!
We felt very sad seeing you walk off Erin! Please know that you have two special friends in Alex and I, and that no matter what, we will always be here for you. Thanks for being part of our most special University of Life!
"As you walk, eat and travel, be where you are otherwise you will miss most of your life" - Buddha.