The four of us who left our little sleepy town yesterday have now landed safely in the bosom of the Windy City. The journey from St. Louis to Chicago only took five long hours on a double decked megabus that offered a beautiful view of the pitch blackness of the road and only a little compensation of little street and vehicle lights. A journey during the day might have given a little more to rejoice for as far as road sight-seeing is concerned. It was something to be thankful for however that it provided a few pockets of sleeping time for us who had spent an earlier part of the evening riding in a private van all the way from Edwardsville. The bus which left the St. Louis Union Station pulled over at the Chicago Union Station a few minutes after six this morning, and we the travellers stepped into the cold wind with gigantic buildings blocking our view of the beautiful morning sky.
We are Reham, Audrey, Mafoya and I: two males, two females; three Africans and one French; two Fulbrighters and two International students; two and a half speakers of French, one of Arabic and one and a half of Yoruba; one moslem, an atheist, one Christian and one composite. In short, a United Nations of sorts. We have so far visited a few fun places, and as I lay here typing after a long day, I don’t know just where to start. The day had definitely been fulfilling, from getting lost on the streets, to getting shoved within a crowd of busy pedestrians going and coming without a discernible pattern of intentions. From becoming the centre of attention on the corner of a busy street because of a heady insistence to consult the large city map right there to the long, pleasant ride up into the Sky Deck observation area of the Sears (Willie’s) Tower to get an aerial view of the whole city, and to learn more of the very much cultural import of this city that has defined America in more ways than one. From a long walk on Adam’s street coming from the magnificent Sear’s Towers to the enchanting awesome experience of the corridors of the Art Institute of Chicago – an experience of a lifetime that requires a long post of its own. From sitting at Starbucks on an early Friday morning observing people getting their morning beverage ritual to returning home tired at night to this five star hostel that had put up no big public sign of its name and had got us a bit wandering. From the ups and downs of this exhilarating day, here we are, bushed from a day on a town that never stops demanding, yet bubbly with a kind of sweet miserableness.
One of the other guys in this large room for ten where Mafoya and I sleep talks a little too loudly on his phone to/about his boyfriend/admirer in an often not too discreet manner. Sigh, will we survive it?
The free coffee provided in the first floor of this almost ten storeys building is one of the crappiest in the world. But since I’m not such an addict in the first place, I should survive, I think.
Our room – a ten-bed suite for the males – for a reason beyond my explanation bears the number 419, a curious number to have as two African students in a foreign land as this. For now, it is our inside joke. And so, we will survive.
Tomorrow will find us back on the streets, seeking out the treasures of a place that could boast of the likes of Barack Obama, Ernest Hemingway, Jeniffer Hudson, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Louis Armstrong, and yes, Kanye West among its notable citizens. The city has welcomed us with open arms. Its time to ravage it. Let the day break.