So, I am back in Pennsylvania, staying with a friend in East Carnegie (a part of Pittsburgh). Am I settled into my life here? Far from it!
After finishing two months of traveling to tell the EELRCA and CAR story, I have now started networking to find what I will be doing next. (More on that another time.) A huge thank you to all who supported me in my home assignment travels and who offered all kinds of hospitality!
What I have noticed is that the US is vast and diverse! (Not really news there, right?) But somehow it is also the same. I have been thinking a lot about Wilton, ND as I have taken my morning walks in East Carnegie. Both are small towns – but with big differences. I can walk all around both places in an hour – going up and down the streets. Both are near the railroad. Both are pretty little areas where people will greet a stranger walking down the street early in the morning.
OK, East Carnegie is really a part of Pittsburgh, but it is tucked into a little space between highways, some industrial complexes, and other neighborhoods, so it feels like a small town. I looked up the population online for both places and found 726 for Wilton and 546 for East Carnegie. Streets are much narrower here and there is much less yard around houses. Many streets are now dead ends – cut off when the highway or other road was built – or when the road got to the stream. Isn’t it interesting how our brains (or at least mine!) are always looking for connections? To compare what is happening/being seen here with something from the past? Fascinating. I do compare this town to Garoua Boulai, too, but much less because it is so different.
Speaking of fascinations: clouds and rain storms still intrigue me. Here is the rain approaching – taken from the porch of the house where I am staying. Just after that, I had to go inside when the rain started in earnest and came at such an angle that the porch roof was no protection!
Here are some other things I have noticed as I get re-settled in the US. Lots of places have planes that fly overhead. This picture is from a walk near O’Hare Airport in Chicago, but they fly overhead in East Carnegie, too (just not quite so low).There are lots of signs telling us what to do in the US, too. That assumes a literate culture and money to develop this infrastructure.
Road are generally wider in the US with lots of lanes and traffic. On the other hand, Pittsburgh has many hills with VERY narrow streets. I have been on a few where I didn’t think it was wide enough for my car. It was paved or I might have thought I was in CAR! Here, too, there are some very steep roads where you get to an edge and feel like you will drive off a cliff, but after a few more feet you see that you are just starting on one of the almost vertical streets. Some streets here are also steps. (That is, the street name continues, but only pedestrians can continue on the stairs up/down a hill.) The GPS has told me a couple of times to turn right there were was no street – once there were some of these steps.
So to go back to the original question? Am I settled? No. Walking helps me reintegrate in my US world. Networking is helping me think about what I will be doing next. I am still traveling around – staying with a friend here, about to go to Linn Run State Park (near Ligonier, PA) to stay at a cottage with a friend for an early weekend, and then headed to Mechanicsburg (near Harrisburg) to visit Mom for awhile.
I look forward to a street address and meaningful work. I’ll keep you posted!