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NORTH AMERICA - THE “BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITIES” TOUR

Savannah Postcard

SAVANNAH

“FROM CITY TO STATION – COMBAT MODE”

I read somewhere that Savannah was a small taste of a historic southern city; its streets dotted with wealthy mansions left over from the era when cotton lined the pockets of its well to do citizens. Interested I read further and decided to leave the lazy days of Fort Lauderdale behind to arrive in Savannah at the reasonable time of 8am. To be more specific, I arrived at a train station surrounded by sparse fields, in the middle of nowhere.

Savannah was six kilometres away.

As there was no bus I had the choice of two alternatives to get into town; walk the six kilometres or catch a taxi.

“Does it take much of an effort to walk into town?” I asked the train station receptionist.

She answered with a horrified look upon her face. It was not the reaction I was expecting. She then expanded further.

“Walking into town would be extremely unsafe. The road is isolated. Any person could drive by and threaten your safety or worse.”

A middle aged guy, standing behind me in the queue, agreed and then offered me a third alternative.

“I will drop you into town.”

I am not supposed to accept lifts from strangers, I thought.

But then there was the prospect of the second alternative, a taxi fare. I agreed to accept his generous offer and climbed into the passenger seat of his battered Ute.

The drive into town passed through dry, green tinged pastures, fading further under the impending summer sun. The side of the road was lined with tall trees offering some shelter and shade.

Statue

The driver tried to make light conversation but I was occupied with other matters. I needed to plan my escape should he turn out to be a perverse threat. Opening the passenger door and jumping out of his moving vehicle was not too appealing but it appeared to be the only option.

Thankfully, six kilometres and a couple of thousand thoughts later he kept to his word, dropping me off in the centre of Savannah’s historical district. This was now a tourist destination, located along a river which meandered its way through town.

Along the river stood warehouses which used to store cotton plucked from the surrounding fields. These warehouses now stored tourists plucked from all corners of the United States. Cafes and restaurants now lined the pockets of the inhabitants of the local economy. The Savannah cotton industry had survived.

People bought their coffees and sat outside the warehouses watching a historic paddleboat float on the current, down river. Perhaps I should join it. Perhaps I should let the river carry me away; let the currents of nature decide my fate.

But in the meantime I was off to see another local tourist site. Heading directly away from the river I sat down on a bench in one of Savannah’s many historic square gardens. In the centre sat a statue dedicated to a past civil war hero.

Relaxed, I took out my guidebook to read there were some forts on the edge of town which had been built in the early 1800s to protect the city’s ports from foreign invaders. Sounded interesting; but sitting down under the branches of the over hanging trees in a Savannah garden was still more appealing.

Besides I had to make my way back to the train station before it became dark. I had already decided to spend only the day in Savannah and catch the next night train to Atlanta.

I walked to the local tourist office.

“Does it take much of an effort to walk into town?” I asked the tourist office receptionist.

She answered with a horrified look upon her face. It was the reaction I was by now half expecting but it still surprised me. She then expanded further.

“Walking into town would be extremely unsafe. The road is isolated. Any person could drive by and threaten your safety or worse.”

I looked behind me to see if there was a middle aged guy standing there ready to offer me a lift to the train station. But there was none.

Waterfront

Well how dangerous can this walk be I asked myself?

I walked outside and contemplated hiring a taxi. I took my wallet out of my pocket, looked at it solemnly and all it did was speak to me one word. No!

Well that was that then.

I hitched my day pack to my back and then set off speedily and determinably in the direction of the train station.

I quickly passed beyond the outskirts of the town and found myself walking along the isolated road upon which I had arrived. If there was a danger it would appear from the horizon, a small speck in the distance which would become larger and larger as it approached.

Perhaps it might be wiser, if there is such a step up from been stupid, if I got off the road and walked along the farm fields behind the sheltering trees. This should offer hidden protection from any perverted threat that approached from the road.

Two kilometres later: what if some homosexual farm boy should approach me on his revved up tractor? He might have me for trespassing and decide to take the law into his own hands.

Perhaps it was safer to be walking along the road after all.

Perhaps I am not cut out to be a billionaire corporate leader. After all what is it all about?

Here I am behind enemy lines, trying to find my way back to headquarters.

Life is at its most basic when we are fighting to survive; when we can hear the beating of our own heart through the heavy breathing of fear.

Life unravelled; simple and in an odd way secure.

I don’t feel like a winner.

I am at my best when I am striving to survive.

When you are down, grit your teeth, reveal your determination and prove your heart and mind are set on only an upward direction.

Here I was in the richest nation in the world, having been surrounded by dull concrete skies and conspicuous consumption for the past two months.

Where was the meaning?

But now for a short time I felt strangely alive. I was out in the open country air, a slight breath of wind whistling through the trees, filling my lungs. My senses were finely tuned and my instincts focused.

Forget the business ideologies that relate running a company to fighting a war. The war is only over money after all. Leave that to the government.

Freedom and liberty is the ideology of the United States of America. But make no mistake, money and greed is the basic fabric of this grand country. It is no criticism just the majorities view of progress.

Is that what it is all about?

It was something to ponder as eventually I made my way safely into the Savannah train station to wait around for my next train trip to Atlanta which was due to depart in a couple of hours time.