You’ll all be pleased to hear that my absence from posting has not been a result of getting caught up in the legal system. I have managed to avoid my law enforcement friends for the last few days.
An update on the past couple of days;
I spent a night in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was rainy and generally not very memorable. I did happen to fit in some shopping, and there is some incredible real estate in the area! It was beautiful just driving around some of the suburbs, seeing the gorgeous estates.
In the end, my driving led me to Fayetteville, Arkansas (Pronounced ARkensall or ARkensaw if you want to sound really American). I saw an Armadillo on the way! I later found out from Nicki that they carry leprosy; fun fact for you.
Fayetteville is a lovely little town, home to the University of Arkansas, and not much else.
I met my CouchSurfing host, Nicki, in the afternoon at her apartment, then we went exploring. She took me on the bus, which is FREE for everyone, down the road to the University- where she and her boyfriend David both study.
The Greek organisation within the university had just donated an incredible, huge brass gate entrance to the university. Apparently a gift is given to the school every 10 years or so, the last one was a Greek theatre on campus, this year- a gate.
We walked around the grounds of the University of Arkansas and it was one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. The grass is all green, the leaves are just changing for fall so the sidewalks were lined with big tree’s full of orange-pink leaves and there was squirrels running around everywhere. It was amazing.
From Campus, we went to Dickson street, the main street in Fayetteville. Which is right near campus and lined with cute boutiques, restaurants and pubs with live music. Nicki also showed me Block Avenue (possibly street?) which a little side street, filled with unique stores. A bit of a hidden gem of the city and it was lovely.
We then met David- Nicki’s boyfriend who is here from Panama on a scholarship, and had pizza at a new brewery that just opened on Dickson street.
While waiting at the bus station on campus to go home, I was almost awestruck when a group of University of Arkansas cheerleaders walked in. They’re real! They really all wear the uniforms, and they’re just like the movies. This was a very exciting realization for me, even more so when a group of male cheerleaders walked in straight after.
Friday night there was a soccer game- Panama vs. Honduras. Apparently half of the Panamanian population is in Fayetteville, and came over to watch the game with us. A cultural experience is what Nicki told me to prepare myself for, and a cultural experience it was. The game, as well as the conversation in the apartment, was in Spanish. For someone who’s most advanced Spanish sentence is ‘I don’t speak much Spanish’, it was a pretty quiet couple of hours in terms of conversation on my part. It was fun though.
I spent Friday night on a very comfortable couch, and that concludes my first night of my first CouchSurfing experience.
Saturday morning was spent helping Nicki’s friend Carrie move into her new apartment. I learned 2 things from this;
1. How ridiculously cheap rentals are in Fayetteville. You can expect to pay about $300US A MONTH, for a 2-3 bedroom, living room, dining room and kitchen apartment.
And 2. When the friend that’s moving says she ‘doesn’t have very much left to move’, never believe them.
As a thank you, Carrie took us all out for lunch. It was decided I had to experience ‘proper southern food’ before I left.
My proper southern food experience consisted of Chicken fried steak, corn nuggets, potato salad & corn bread. Despite how it may or may not sound, it was pretty good at the time. After walking around for an hour or so afterwards though, my body started protesting against all the carbs.
You’ll be pleased to know I survived the ordeal, and have now officially experienced proper southern food.
After lunch we made our way back to campus as there was a college football game that night, and I needed to experience ‘tailgating’.
The easiest way for me to explain tailgating to someone would be this;
Imagine half of the population of Fayetteville descending on the University of Arkansas campus on the morning of game day, setting up marques and televisions, then spending the day there drinking beer, barbeque’ing and watching football, covered head to toe in U of A team merchandise, of course.
The football team are called the Hogs, or Razorbacks. I believe it’s Razorbacks and their mascot is a hog..
Regardless, the mascot is a hog. Most times, a mascot means that someone dresses up as the mascot at the game, correct?
Wrong. The University of Arkansas actually has a hog. A real one. His name is Tusk #5. On game days, Tusk gets to ride in his own personalised trailer all around Campus, with a bunch of cheerleaders and a full marching band on top of his trailer.
I’m told that Louisiana State Universities mascot is a Tiger. Surely they can’t have a real Tiger, right? Wrong. Although I’m not sure he/she is made quite so accessible to the public on game days.
Tailgating was a very American experience and I absolutely loved it.
Saturday night was another first. David, Nicki & I made Jambalaya!
Then watched a so-bad-it-was-good, movie called Tucker and Dale vs Evil. Anyone that needs a laugh, watch that movie!
My first ever CouchSurfing experience was amazing and I absolutely fell in love with Fayetteville! Thank you SO much Nicki & David.
My next stop was Memphis. Which meant that most of my Sunday was taken up with driving. Fortunately I had all of Monday to explore. And explore I did.
Beale Street is like a different world. It’s a combination of Broadway in Nashville, with country charm and a very chill atmosphere, and Times Square in New York.
Basically, it’s a street of alternating bars and souvenir shops, with creepy, very flirtatious men every second step.
'If you need a dance partner later tonight, I'll be around'- is cute.
'You know, I do private, exclusive tours free of charge, for special people'- is most definitely not.
After Beale Street, I headed to St Jude’s Childrens Research Hospital. After hearing so much about this place, and donating to the cause, I thought I should check it out. And while there’s not much to see, it’s an amazing place and the things the people there are doing, are absolutely incredible.
St Jude’s specializes in Children’s Cancer research and it’s just an incredible cause.
I decided while in Memphis, I should see Graceland. The tour was incredible- I’d recommend it to anyone. While the upstairs of the estate is off limits, you pretty much get to access every other part, including the grave sites. They also have a tour of Elvis’ aircraft, Lisa-Marie, and a car museum which holds a multitude of cars once owned by Elvis.
The site as a whole is amazing and should be on every Elvis fans’ to-do list.
Today, on my rather uneventful drive from Memphis to St. Louis, Missouri, I just happened to look to my right while driving down the interstate. At first glance, I just saw a graveyard/cemetery, nothing too unusual. It took me a couple of moments to see but, there were camels wandering the cemetery. Camels! In Missouri. I’m still not sure if that’s common, but it is probably one of the most random things I’ve ever seen. I still can’t quite comprehend, camels.. walking around the cemetery..
Anyway! I’m in St Louis, Missouri tonight.
Hope everyone is smiling!!