Quick update from the road – Italy

I’m alive!

I have been traveling for three weeks now and just now got a chance of sharing some of my stories with you.

First of all – I knew it’d be a chalenge to travel Italy, France and Spain without knowing the language, yet sometimes it was just too much. On the other hand it gives you so much crazy satisfaction once you get across the language barrier!

My first ride from Milano to somewhere 1/3-way to Sanremo was a truck driver Tony who in English knew only ‘hello’. Yet we spend a whole hour talking, playing the music together and sharing our stories; somehow. We WANTED to communicate and so we did. If I try describing Italy in one phrase it will be: Italy is very humid, the people don’t know English, yet want to tell you a lot so they try, the women are loud and tabacchi bars are much better than pizzerias.

My first host, Alex, was a … special person. This time CouchSurfing didn’t go crazy. Yet I have met somebody else (in a way through CS, really – just by an accident), a very special person I believe. Hoomam.

He decided to leave Siria after a bomb had exploded next to him. He’d escaped to Sweden where he’s spent half a year living in a refugee camp and learning Swedish; he’s been doing so well that not only after being given residency he became a Swedish teacher, but also speaking English he had Swedish accent. Very lingo-talented, whatever I told him in Polish, he’d repeat with a perfect pronaunciation. Apart of that a very very very amazing person. I had so much fun with him. Serious, so much fun!

Here is us and some canals of Milano:

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And then we met in a Craft Beer Pub Michele – a guy who were supposed to be my CS host but I never requested him. But yeah, the universe brought us together so we could sing ‘Feeling Good’ in the rain of Milano and then take separate ways.

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What else happened in Milano.. I went to the Sforza Castle and found that amazing spot I was not allowed to enter.

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And I climbed (yoged!) that monument in order to take a picture of the Duomo. Faces of the guys having food downstairs, as I pull myself up in my mini dress and of course nearly show my butt – priceless.

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*****

Next step was Sanremo. Apart of my first amazing Tony ride, I drove with an English teacher who just did not know English. I’m being super serious here. Very sad.

Sanremo… very nice. I stayed with Paolo, had a little chill, rode around on his Vespa and checked out the nearby cities and beaches (including the beautiful Busana Vecchia, a true reason for me to come to Liguria), crossed some other language barriers… pretty satisfying. Apart of two things.

  1. my Nice (not so nice) host, Bryce, decided to just disappear two days before I was supposed to stay with him. That story will return in the France part.
  2. Paolo did me some fixing as a physiotherapist and osteopath and something very weird happened to my salivary glands. That’ll will return in the Monaco story, for which I need separate post.

Sanremo had amazing visual side. I mean… just check it out.

 

And so Busana Vecchia. One day in Cracow, years ago, out of nowwhere Jimi jumps on me and Pawel and he starts telling us we have to visit Busana. That amazing place, which was deserted after an earthquake in the end of XIXth century and then, almost a hundret year ago populated again by artists and hippies moving into the ruins and taking care of them. When I found out it was on my way from Milano to France, I had to go there. The reason I went to Sanremo was there was no CouchSurfing in Busana. I felt like there would be a few places to stay there, yet wanted to have the comfort of knowing I wouldn’t be homeless 😉

And so from there I hitch to Monaco. To be continued…

 

 

Quick update from the road – Italy

A new journey begins

Hello everybody,

I’ve been absent for some time, yet there has been so much going on.

The news is: I am about to begin a new journey, this time around Europe – as even here there are places I haven’t explored yet.

On the 29th of July I’ll be comfy and fly with my beautiful Tanglewood guitar to Milan (Italy).
Here she is:

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From there I’ll go to Sanremo and Bussana Vecchia in the region of Italy called Liguria; from there through Monaco to France: Nice –> Marseille –> Montpellier.
Then Spain: Barcelona –> Valencia –> Murcia –> Beneficio –> Granada –> Malaga
And Gibraltar.
Back to Sevilla in Spain.
And then I think I’ll go to Portugal… I haven’t made those plans yet, I’ll really see where the wind blows.

That gives 5-6 countries in a month and a half. Europe’s tiny!

I’ll be hitchhiking and couchsurfing, just as every time, because I want to explore the lands through the people.
I’ve already found people to stay with in Milan, Sanremo and Nice. It’s getting closer so… if you have any awesome friends who’d you think have fun with me and have some space for a human-worm (me in my sleeping bag), please,connect us!

And for now: enjoy July, people!

 

 

A new journey begins

The most interesting rides

A lot of people in the US asked me if it wouldn’t have been easier to take a bus than to hitch across the country. The answer is: yes, it would have.

But it’s not about being easy. It’s about being life changing.

Today I’m going to focus on one of the reasons to hitch – people you meet on your way. Here’s the story:

1) Ken (Virginia –> Knoxville, TN)

Ken was an ex-professor of bio-physics or something equally hardcore. Now, working for the government (like the rest 1/3 of American citizens), he would travel a lot between Washington and Chattanooga or even Alabama. He wore a baseball cup, spoke with a thick southern accent, he was telling me about the civil war and we were listening to an audio book about it. Older guy, I’d say around 70? But full of live 😉 He would make as many stops for me as I wanted. I traded with him lunch for a song. After some time he stopped talking at all and I felt a little bit uncomfortable. Next thing he said was when he stopped for a wee: ‘alright, I think I really need to smoke’
‘Well, alright… but I just want to remind you that you haven’t smoked for over 20 years now. It’s not a good idea to go back to it’ I said.
‘Oh, no worries, ma’am. I won’t be smoking cigarettes’

He loaded a full bowl of weed, we smoked and hit the road.
He was restarted – telling stories about him and his friends being attacked by a bear in the Smokey Mountains and how much he loved those lands. This time he wasn’t an A driver though. To be honest I was a little bit afraid, especially when he was putting a map in front of his face and looking for some small cities marked on it.

He dropped me right in front of the house I was going to. I remember the guys told me that when we arrived they panicked; somebody said: ‘quick, it’s an old dude, hide the pipe’. Well, if they only knew…

2) Jesus Freak Lady (Knoxville, TN –> Nashville, TN)

I was leaving Knoxville, the rain was pouring hard. A trucker stopped by me yet I told him to leave, as he was really sketchy. And then out of nowhere that lady arrives, asks where I am going, ‘Nashville’ I say, she considers time and says ‘jump in, I’m gonna take you as far as I can’.

She asked me, after two minutes of ride, if I was a Christian. Something told me I should have rather said ‘yes, I am’ and so I did. She said she picked me up because Jesus told her to drive me as far as possible from here. Alright, if Jesus said so… I won’t complain.
In the end she drove me to Nashville (right to Josh’ house!) – so sweet! Instead of taking 1,5 hour trip to Georgia where she was going to, she took 4,5 hours trip Knoxville–>Nashville–>Atlanta!

On  our way she was asking me A LOT of questions of ‘what does the Church in Poland say about…’ kind, we listened to Johnny Cash, as he was a religious man (‘I’m a Jesus Freak, normally I listen only to Christian music, I like it. Yet Johnny Cash was such an amazing man! We saw him here, in Nashville’). She was a teacher (‘I work for the government. I’m a teacher’), so she was also curious about the education system in Poland (or wait, I was interested in education system in the US?). She also told me about racism (or actually the lack of divisions? or maybe the adults attempts of creating them) amongst the kids in kindergarten/primary school age.

At the end of our trip she gave me all sorts of shit she had in her car – scissors, some letters from a Christian community, tissues or paper or something… I’m not sure, the whole sheet of post stamps with the face of Johnny Cash and, wait for it… an audio Bible. Bigger than an actual Bible as a book. Oh my God, did she think I’d carry it all the way to San Francisco in my backpack? It was a sweet gesture, weird too.

I remember that she pointed at a red rock by the road and said ‘see this rock? You find these only in Tennessee and Arizona. Nobody knows why’. Ha, I believed, of course! But soon I realized that it wasn’t entirely true and there was no big mistery in all of it. Just a classic red rock.NinaStopUSA

3) Horny Grandpa (Nashville, TN –> Dickson, TN)

I needed to check the story in my text messages because apart from that I knew it happened, I wasn’t sure where and when – Tennessee, Mississippi…?

The guy was at least 80. A complete redneck. I texted my friend saying ‘I’ve got my first ride to Dixon [actually it’s Dickson], forgot the plates of course [the plan was I’d send him plates of my rides, just in case] but I’m going with a really funny southern grandpa’

Guess what. He wasn’t that funny. After 5 minutes he started telling me how dangerous it is to travel alone with ‘what a nice pair of hooters [or titties]’. He promised he was too old to hurt me, but it was creepy anyway when he was staring at my boobs and making up nicknames for them.

4) Keith (Dickson, TN –> Memphis, TN)

Keith was a lovely human being. He was protective too.
The way he picked me up – I didn’t even leave the horny pa’s car entirely, my leg was still inside but he stopped and asked: ‘are you going West?’ and I was so he invited me to go with him.
He decided that it’s odd I hadn’t had pancackes in the US yet and that he had to get me some. He didn’t eat himself. He told me the story of his daughter, much younger than me, who got raped and how did they manage the whole thing. That’s why he was an ‘everybody’s dad’ now. I needed a person like that at the time, somebody I could feel comfortable with. On top of that he was a classy guy, super smart, good sense of humor… somebody safe, trustworthy, interesting, intelligent and entertaining. Yaaaay, a break from horny weirdos!

On our way we had to emergency stop once more. An accident. Two bikers lying on the ground, one of them not moving, the other one – a lady – panicking. Keith stopped the car, yelled ‘I used to be in the Navy, I know first aid! Stay in the car!’ and he ran to the guys. I stayed in the car. I wouldn’t help really and if that’s how he prefered it – alright, he’s the savior here. After 5 minutes the ambulance was there, Keith explained as much as he could to them and we left the scene.

I remember he insisted on waiting with me for my host to make sure I get home safe (though he’s already said ‘Oh my God, that’s South Memphis, pretty nasty’).

5) The Druid (Memphis, TN –> Clarksdale, MS)

He was a part of this story of mine.

Quickly: big, scary, scars and burns all around his body, neck and face more similar to pigs than humans, he had a silver scull at the car’s hood. He believed himself to be a druid. And he laughed at satanists who don’t know the Black Bible enough. He did.

He said that in his live he had been hit by a thunder three times (to be honest, he looked as if it was the truth), several times by the bus (also probable), he was shot and etc… because somebody cursed him. But he cannot die because as a druid he is immortal.

6) The creepy trucker (Vicksburg, MS –> somewhere south from Vicksburg)

Part of this story. (there’s also no 3. horny grandpa in there, as I was pretty sure it had been the same day. It wasn’t, now I know)

The guy didn’t have any super interesting story for me. But the way he was saying ‘yo giiiiiiirl, show me your white leeeeegs!’ (every two minutes the least often!) was really funny.

Also he asked weird questions – I left earlier.

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7) Bob (I-12/I-55 intersection, LA –> Hammond, LA)

This guy looking like Danny DeVito, driving an expensive sport car, stops by me so as to save me off the highway (it was a shit place, the shoulder wasn’t too wide, it was 100% illegal to be there but I wasn’t worried about the police – I was scared of the trucks passing me by so close that they would just do whatever they wanted with me – the air would lift me, move me, stop me, push me back, push me sides… scary!). His name was Bob and he looked like a Bobby. Name and car matched him perfectly. He was really nice but I just drove with him about 10 minutes and he went different ways.

8) Tim the policeman (Hammond, LA –> NOLA)

Really creepy dude. It felt safe to drive with a policeman and he was really funny etc… But after he dropped me he tried giving me a kiss (nope.). Then he was texting me for a while. I didn’t answer too much.

Still he told me an interesting story about a 14 years old girl from LA who run away from her home, hitch hiked, having sex with old dudes for accomodation. She was hitch-hiking and he picked her up. When she started offering what she had to offer he said something like in a movie (‘well, you’re lucky, cause you’re getting your accomodation now!’ or ‘I’d love to but I can’t lock myself up’) and… put her into the jail. Sure, why would you send this baby to it’s parents… they put her in prison for prostitution. It seems rough.

9) Adam and Gary (Houston, TX –> Austin, TX)

The best lift ever.

Adam noticed this doughnut place giving away freshly fried doughnuts as samples when the neon sign is on – it was on so we tried, got amazing (and free) doughnuts and left through the other door so as to escape the awkward situation of just hanging out after eating a bunch of samples and not actually purchasing anything… But hey, we were on our way to dinner at that place where they had paper tablecloths and a lot of crayons. Sooooo much fuuuun!!! (and some gossip about Adam with his dad 😉 )

gary an adam

10) Rescued by the law enforcement (Lampas, TX –> Lubbock, TX)

On my way from Austin I’ve got picked up by this really weird looking person in a pick up truck. Something told me I have to double check if I want to travel with this person. I asked, if could send his plates to ‘my mom’. He wasn’t happy but said OK. I was really slow with this one. I sent his plates to Josh (actually today I saw I’d never sent the message!) and just when I closed his car’s door, he said ‘oh, wait, the police’s here’.

The policeman asked us what’s going on and took our papers (his driver’s license, my passport and ID). He was definately checking if I’m not a prostitute (some rednecks checked it before him the other day, offering me ‘nice’ deals, so the guy definately knew the neighborhood). He spent a lot of time in his car which gave me a chance to talk a bit longer with the driver before we start rolling. The policeman came back and asked me to come with him. I was soooo nervous following him, thinking ‘oh my, something’s wrong with my passport. Or my visa. I want to continue this trip!’. He held my papers in his hand and spoke:

‘What makes you trust this man?’

‘I don’t trust him’ I responded immediately ‘I don’t know him. But I have to hit the road, I’m already late’.

‘I will tell you something about this man and you will decide if you want to go with him or not – it’s your choice’. The rest of his words seemed to be coming out of his mouth incredibly slowly: ‘This man… spent 5 years… in jail… for sexual herassment… on a 6-years-old… boy’

Oh my God!

‘He doesn’t seem to be able or willing to hurt me’ I said ‘yet, as a woman traveling alone, I should probably watch out, not risk. Oh no, I have to go…’ looked at the policeman feeling that he wanted to give me a ride ‘Alright, I won’t go with him, I need to be careful’

He said he’d sort me out. He took my backpack and my baby guitar out of the guy’s car, he said I wouldn’t go with him and that we’re sorry. He gave me a lift to the end of the county. Then he called the cop on duty in the next county – his dad. He gave me a lift to the end of their county saying this city was amazingly beautiful and I should have stayed if I hadn’t caught any ride. He gave me some lunch money and a hug, then he left. Love his lift! (and the universe for saving my risky ass!)

11) Lady death (7 miles south from Las Vegas, NM –> Santa Fe, NM)

Right before Santa Fe, this lady stopped by me and said ‘I won’t give you a lift, I’m going to Vegas’ [Vegas, NM!] ‘But tell me, do you play the guitar?’ so we had a little chat. After our chat the lady decided to drive me to Santa Fe.

She looked like Phoebe from ‘The Friends’, if she ended up working at a funeral home for her old years. She was beautiful by the way. But old and weird. And spiritual, just like Phoebe. She never mentioned anybody dying but she had a few funeral wreaths in her car. In the end she turned out a bit frustrating but still she helped me out (and she was one of only three women who gave me lifts for those 3 months, rest of them was afraid).

12) A mexican bus (Santa Fe, NM –> Denver, CO)

My destination was Boulder, CO. I stopped a Mexican coach (almost empty) going directly to Denver. Happy me! I slept all the way!

[Maybe it’s not ‘the people I met on my way’ but it’s ‘The most interesting rides’]

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a2aa(our only stop, around Trinidad, CO)a2a

13) Digger

In this case: he’s not any ride, but he’s a person I wouldn’t have met, if it hadn’t been for hitching.

King of the hobos. An intelligent type, so what that crazy? His heart was in the right place. He taught me how to recognize and ex KGB agent and gave me a REALLY NICE knife.

The entire story is here.

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14) The psychologist 

Ron wasn’t a psychologist. But he was there for me and I was his patient, that’s why I call him this way. He seriously fixed me during our ride. I cried, I laughed, I cheered, I yelled. He said ‘special occasion’, opened a pack of Marlboro and decided ‘we’ll both need a smoke’.

Thank you, road, for a doctor like this!

15) Pablo, the porn producer on a wheelchair, who turned out to kind of kidnap me
(Albuquerque, NM –> Flagstaff, AZ –> Las Vegas, NV)

The entire story is here.

16) Japanease energy stealer (Santa Cruz, CA –> San Francisco, CA)

He wasn’t even Japanease. He looked like Daryl Sabara of Spy Kids.

He was very spiritual; very spiritual. I liked it – that’s the way I am. We spoke about live and karma driving on Route 1, beautiful views, relaxing ocean, and my Californian eyes.

That’s where the trouble began.

He took me for some kind of Japanease healing therapy and they stole all my good energy. I don’t know how but I feel like these people took away from me something precious, something I’d been working since I’d started my travels. They stole a piece of my soul.

No lawsuit will bring it back to me. I think that may have been my biggest lose ever.

Also after this one… a whole serious came by. They still stick to me, honestly. It’s like my spirit was… dirty, not as clean as it used to be. Or maybe it’s just San Francisco?

The most interesting rides

Ornette Coleman dead at 85

I’ve just received news that Ornette Coleman, my favourite sax player died yesterday at the age of 85. According to New York Times the cause of his death was cardiac arrest.

What I love Ornette for:

1) Tomorrow is the question!

2) Grafton Saxophone

In the 50’s he was rather broke, working in LA as an elevator operator, Coleman swapped his tenor saxophone for the cheapest option. He stuck to it until early 60’s.

3) Free jazz*

Ornette Coleman is a major innovator of the free jazz era. In 1960 he asked himself a question: ‘what will happen, if I bring into a recording studio two different quartets [of a similar construction] and tell them to improvise?’. Of course there had to be some meeting points. He lead one of them (Don Cherry – pocket trumpet, Scott LaFaro – bass, Billy Higgins – drums), Eric Dolphy (bass clarinet) the other one (Freddie Hubbard – trumpet, Charlie Haden – bass and Ed Blackwell on drums) <– click the name and listen to the music.

Ornette’s quartet was recorded as the left channel, Dolphys – as the right one. There were two tracks released on this LP: Free jazz (part 1) on side one and Free jazz (part 2) on side B, being the lengthiest recorded continuous jazz performance to date (almost 40 minutes!).

What was the final piece? For some genious, for some disturbing. I love it.

* Some critics try to convince the world that Free Jazz wasn’t free jazz because you could sense the pulse of rythmic sections, there are solos and blah blah blah. I say – the guy who called his album Free Jazz first, claims the right to set what free jazz is. **

** No, I don’t seriously think that. Yet in my heart Ornette’s ‘the guy who invented free jazz’.

4) Harmolodic

You invented your own music genre, it’s popular, people play it in China, Argentina and Nigeria. What do you do? Invent a new one!

Actually a whole philosophy of musical genre (and a nice name for your record label).

Coleman said harmolodics was ‘the use of the physical and the mental of one’s own logic made into an expression of sound to bring about the musical sensation of unisonexecuted by a single person or with a group.’ Basically this means that ‘harmony, melody, speed, rhythm, time and phrases all have equal position in the results that come from the placing and spacing of ideas’.

‘Get rid of tonal centres!’ yelled the jazz scene of these days.

In 1972 Ornette presented his idea in Skies of America (his 18th album! Recorded in Abbey Road Studios), where members of the London Symphony Orchestra played parallel lines as written, without transposition to their home keys.

I just can’t resist and need to share this video of harmolodics in Poland:

And here’s harmolodics:

There are dozens of reasons for you to love Ornette Coleman and his music. There are dozens of reasons for you to hate his music. I know that I will remember yesterday as the day when my dream passed away. He was my dream by all means. He was my inspiration and consolation. I’m pretty sure he was an inspiration for thousands of other people too. Well, I won’t see him live any more, yet the dreams of mine he owned are now free, to be taken. I’ll try.

Ornette Coleman dead at 85

I went down to the Crossroads – the story of my Clarksdale 2

Where were we… Oh yes, I was in Clarksdale, had nowhere to go for the night and sat comfy getting started with playing some music in lunch bar’s front porch. Right before I started, a guy had sat next to me, offering me to stay with him and his friends in the condominium they’ve rented for two nights. He was a drummer. I don’t trust them. And a biker. Come on, if you’re a woman traveling alone you don’t stay with them (drummers or bikers) for a night! After short conversation he went away and I started playing.

With my second song, a car stopped down the road, two man and a woman came out of it with film equipment and came up to me with their story.

They were a TV from Chicago, shooting a documentary about the Blues Trail. Of course Clarksdale was important – that’s where the ‘Crossroads’ are, that’s where the blues was born. That’s apparently where the blues is still cultivated.

What they wanted from me was to appear in their movie, playing in the streets of Clarksdale and telling the story of my travels. And that I did.

A few minutes after they went away, a nice looking gentleman in his 40ties sat next to me, so as to listen. We talked about the music with breaks for playing it, the waitress was bringing me new drinks, the guy was getting more and more kind. He said he wouldn’t give me money for my music, he would buy me a ticket to the Delta Blues Museum (which we both planned to see) and a lunch. Yeah, why not.

The musem was really neat. I wouldn’t call it impressive but it was definitely good. It’s address was 1 Blues Alley. There was a really neat Muddy Waters part; actually, Muddy was everywhere, his lyrics written on the walls, he’s spirit somewhere in the owner’s heart. Neither of us were massive fans of Muddy though.

The guy wanted to teach me about the blues, but quite soon he realized that he didn’t have to. I still don’t remember his name, I don’t think I’ve ever remembered it after he said it. We didn’t like same things and enjoyed same things about the blues and the music in general. It was a nice experience. I took some time for watching Muddy and Pinetop Perkins on stage. He took some time watching Charlie Musselwhite’s (a Cherokee’s son born in KOSCIUSZKO, MS) harmonicas and went to grab some food. Told you – it wasn’t that impressing. But if you go down there, you should definitely see it yourself.

The gentleman offered I could stay with him for the night in Memphis and that he would be reserved but there was no point in going back to Tennessee. And again – I’m a girl alone out there, you just don’t do some things not being 100% sure of them. It was really nice of him but I said ‘no, thank you’, took my stuff out of his trunk where I stored them for some time and followed the map going to a privately owned hotel where I would try making a deal of ‘cheaper room for helping with room service’ kind.

Half way to the hotel I heard the music coming out from a street I shouldn’t have really turned into but… why not? It’s music being the reason why I came down to Clarksdale at all. I mean it wasn’t for the wonderful hotels or the beaches. So I just took the other way and met Deak doing basically that:

I loved it. His wife came out (he was playing in front of his shop). I asked if I could leave there my luggage for a bit so I could get to the hotel quicker and come back once I log in but they were concerned if I’d be there on time. And then out of nowhere Steve appeared with some food and said he’d give me a lift to the hotel as soon as he finishes eating. He was a long-haired blues guitarist (I’d already started noticing that in Clarksdale everybody was a blues guitarist), very smiley and lovely. He said he’d just have to stop on our way so as to print some posters for his gig.

For my surprise we stopped by a funeral home and he opened the car’s door saying ‘come with me, you’ll meet my friends’. First he introduced me to two ladies, then the head of the funeral home. A family run business turned out to be quite a society in Clarksdale. The head, Scott, was helping Steve out with printing. Those were lovely, open people. I told them about my travels and they had a lot of questions; they seemed terrified about me. I mentioned I was on my way to a hotel, as I had nowhere better to go. One of the ladies, I’d met by the door, Teresa, offered I could stay with her, as she had plenty of room and didn’t want me to get hurt. I was saved! The head of the funeral home turned out to be very generous and supportive, I even got a company T-shirt (completely different from what you’d call a funeral home T-shirt; it was purple-lillish with a little hearse on the front and the entire back was covered with their partners, multum of pictures in different colors, shining and inviting)!

Teresa was amazing and she hosted me for my two days of Clarksdale. On my first night she dropped me by Ground Zero Blues Club – coowned by Morgan Freeman. Uncle Freeman didn’t decide to come down the other night, yet a blues band played for about 4 hours or so, extremely long. ‘This is normal in the US, you have to play long gigs. In most cases the band gets to play three or four hour sets with 15 minutes breaks per each’ said the guy making the sound or lights… I’m not sure now. The band was… extremely musically white (yet they weren’t bad). So was most of the audience. I remembered my friend told me about Greg saying ‘the real blues happens in Clarksdale after you cross the railroad tracks’.

ground zero

One guy dressed like a posh redneck, a Mississippi Planter type, all in white including the hat of course, asked me about my history, so I shared. He thought I was both insane and stupid traveling the way I did and I surely ‘could afford a bus’.

‘It’s not about the money and it won’t be’ I said.

‘Alright’ he sighed ‘I will give you just one piece of advice. Never, ever enter a car with a black person.’

‘Thank you’ I said looking at him like at an alien. He must have noticed that, he couldn’t have been that stupid.

He offered he’d give me a lift home (Teresa said that if I don’t find anybody safe giving me a lift, I should just call her; Steve wanted to give me a ride, but he was going to a club across the tracks and he was planning to party there for a while which I wasn’t really going for). I came back in and chatted with the sound-or-light (s-o-l) guy. He said he could give me a lift when he’s finished closing after the gig. Again: too late…

‘Thank, I’ve already got a lift from one guy’ I said.

‘Whom from?’ he wanted to know.

‘The other redneck in a white hat’ I answered pointing at the guy.

‘Really?’ said the s-o-l guy with big eyes and incredulity in his voice. ‘That guy? Do you really trust him? What do you know about him?’

‘I know that he’s a dad, a redneck, he’s mind is closed and he’s racist. He instructed me so as to never ever enter a car with a black person!’ I said nervously, wandering what type of man says those awefully stupid things.

‘What kind of man does it make him?’ asked the s-o-l guy. ‘Never trust a man in a hat’.

And that was my only strict rule for the rest of my trip. I didn’t trust men in hats. I only once entered a car with one of them, luckily I left it immediately and didn’t take the risk.

I called Teresa. She lived in a cute house outside of Clarksdale, had an amazing (can’t believe I’m saying that) Yorkshire Terrier Lady. She was just soo sweet! And so was Teresa. Her last lasting (sounds so funny) story was that her house was damaged by a hurricane (while she was inside!!!) and now it was getting recovered (for me it was pretty much done but I guess there were still details).

Next day I spent playing the music in the streets and talking to random people – all of them either were blues musicians or they children were. No doctors, no retailers, no waiters, only blues musicians. Then Teresa took me for a lunch near the Crossroads where I went to on my own – I was hoping for some kind of mystical experience. all I’ve got was a roundabout and A LOT of tourists (who at the same time didn’t seem to stop in the city at all) taking pictures of the Crossroad sign:

crossroads
In the evening of my last day in Clarksdale Teresa took me down to the Hopson Plantation, a historical-musical place. I think that if you’re interested in etno + music / blues stuff, you should best read their website, the ‘history’ page is really well written.

There was a band playing… I don’t remember the name of the leader. It was good. We had a lot of fun. The band opened with ‘Mustang Sally’ and went from it through all types of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’s, ‘Whole Lotta Love’s and ‘Midnight Hours” to, suprisingly, ‘The Joker’ by Steve Miller Band. Except of this one, the songs were all the same songs you hear Polish cover bands play (now I know that it’s English too) for the 100th time and you wish they play something new. Why? Of course: for the family. According to a noble Polish engeneer said once ‘I like the songs I’ve already heard once. (…) How could I enjoy a song I hear for the very first time?!’. People like what they know. Apparently it’s not Poland, it’s the world for you.

The next day Teresa drove me over an hour away from Clarksdale so as to make my trip to Vicksburg shorter and safer. Lovely her! I’m so glad I found her on my way. I’ll post a picture, I really hope you don’t mind, Teresa, but this is one of my absolute favourite photographs ever taken!

teresa

My Clarksdale was absolutely different than any ‘regular’ tourists (meaning having any idea what they’re doing there). The fate took me down to the Crossroads, the fate took me down to the Meredith Nowell funeral home, the fate found Teresa and the fate found a Blues Trail Movie, Delta Blues Museum, never-trust-a-man-in-a-hat, the-locals-being-in-most-cases-blues-guitar-players and a lot more wonders and lessons. Mississippi is rough though, there’s a lot of racism in the air (that will be a part of ‘rasism in the US’ story). And the fate worked because the reason for everything to me was always the music.

I went down to the Crossroads – the story of my Clarksdale 2