I was always treated very well by natives in Richmond, Virginia and the South. I was surprised by very, very nice welcome wherever and whenever I came. Natives always wanted to speak with me and were interested who I am, what I do in their city, town or village and why I visit it. They usually started the conversation with simple southern version of "how are you" which sounded like "hi do?". I could write a book about their warm, very warm welcome and their hospitality. It was extremely nice. I am speechless...
It started in Richmond where Nat (b1bob) welcomed us (me + Urszula = matcrazy0, my wife) like we were his brother and sister. Shortly we became real, not only virtual friends... Later on during my trip Nat helped us a lot many times sending very helpful faxes and e-mails to my hotels/motels with his suggestions, advice and directions to various exciting points of interest. My trip would be much less interesting and I would skip many, many places without his help. Enough said... Thank you, Nat, my friend.
Now, I only worry whether I am able to do the same for him during his trip to Poland. I will try, no doubt about that.
One thing that I noticed about Richmond in particular was the friendly style and smile of most of the locals. Almost all of them engaged in conversation if appropriate, many offered their prayers for family members who were sick, or their thanks for serving our country. I also greatly enjoyed walking downtown when we ran into this nice mother and daughter. Seeing the large camera mounted on my chest, she politely tugged on my shirt and asked me if I would make her picture. I said back, only if you smile big!
The results are here.
When I was walking along Monument Avenue I saw a house with the front decorated in black spiders and cobwebs. There were orange pumpkins put on the ground, too. It was the first Halloween decoration I ever saw. I got to know what is this annual celebration in American life almost three weeks later, in Austin, Texas...
This is a year where Halloween fell on a Sunday. Some jurisdictions, for religious reasons, had the TRICK OR TREATING (when kids knock on doors on Halloween night and folks give them candy) on Saturday, 30 October. The decision was left up to each individual community instead of from on high in Washington or from a state capitol.
I saw many signs of upcoming presidential elections in Richmond although it was three weeks before. Right many cars had bumper stickers with names of presidential candidates: either Bush or Kerry.
At the gas station in Mechanicsville I asked a guy where to buy or get them? He replied that they were available in local Republican and Democratic party office and asked me many questions. Nice guy and conversation, however a little bit difficult for me. His English was not like the English I heard out West a year before. He sounded a lot like "b1bob".
In Richmond and generally in the South more people put up signs for Republican candidates. It seems that Richmond was a more conversative than liberal city. However, even in the South, the cities are more friendly than Democrats largely due to high black populations and rich Northern transplants (locally derided as "come heres"). The cities of Richmond, Charlotte, Atlanta, Memphis, and New Orleans supported Kerry even as their states (and nearby suburbs) went heavily for Bush. The city of Richmond, for example, voted 56-44% for the Kerry-Edwards ticket. (We saw just as many, if not more, Kerry-Edwards posters and stickers as we did Bush-Cheney ones along Monument Avenue). Hanover County, where "b1bob" lives voted 71-29% for Bush-Cheney and Nat's polling station voted even more solidly Republican than the county average.
Nat Atkins, aka B1bob, is a VT pagemaking machine. Here he is poised to finish his guide to Columbia, South Carolina. All the latest equipment at hand to complete the 38 tips in record time (he returned home from South Carolina and Charlotte on Monday evening and by mid-morning Wednesday there were already 30+ new Columbia tips on an another excellent B1bob chronicle).
Nat is also the epitomy of Southern hospitality. He'll give you the shirt off his back (not that it would smell all that good), buy you supper and plan an all-encompassing tour of Richmond. Still, he will think he is not doing enough. Believe me Nat, you are an extraordinary host.