I had the the whole day on the train, but it felt nice to know I was halfway done with the trip. Traveling by train is interesting and definitely something I can check off my bucket list, but I’d suggest traveling by train would be more enjoyable with a friend.
I went to the cafe car and bought some milk for my breakfast. I had brought my granola cereal and a few bananas to mimic my normal morning routine. The price of food is equivalent to eating at any arena events. To cut some costs, especially if traveling long distances, I would recommend bringing your own snacks and bottled water.
After I finished my breakfast I hung out in the observation car. The windows are larger and the seats are roomier, plus it’s an awesome way to break up the time sitting in your paid seat. I was still in Texas, but the landscape began to show we were headed closer to New Mexico.
As the train stopped in El Paso, I was shocked to see what the real border between Mexico and the U.S. looked like….
I had traveled to Cozumel a few years ago and understood it was the touristy part of the country, but I had never seen the vast differences of the two countries side-by-side.
As I gazed down the rusted barbed-wire fence, it was apparent which country was which, even though the landscaping was the same, the way it was used was vastly different. Our roads were paved, cut into the mountains and rocky environment. Mexico’s houses were plopped on uneven surfaces up steep rocky roads. It looked miserable, homes barley had roofs or windows.
The fence was a physical representation of where dreams began and ended; a literal and concrete meaning of the “American Dream.” It was humbling to see it with my own eyes, and a reminder to not take what I have for granted. Not a single soul gets to pick what country they’re born in, and I should be forever grateful for my homeland luck.
The time zone changes were starving my stomach, because dinner kept getting pushed back later and later. I had also ran out of snacks. When my reservation number (you must reserve a dinner seat earlier in the afternoon with a train attendant) was called over the speakers, I flew quicker than The Flash to the dining car.
The waitresses assign you a place to sit and if you’re a party of one, you’ll be dining with four other strangers. It was a bit odd at first because I sat with three other older gentlemen. One was from England while the other two were Americans.
Halfway through my meal, the man sitting in front of me asked why I was on the train and where I was headed (a normal conversation starter while traveling by train). I gave an edited version of my reasons and of hopes to find a job in California. After learning of my recent graduation he asked what I got my degree in and what I wanted to do.
I expressed my passion for nonprofits, how I had worked for the American Red Cross over the summer and enjoyed every minute assisting during disaster relief efforts and writing blogs for the organization. His response, I kid you not was:
“Man, you sound like the perfect politician. A writer and spin doctor who enjoys working for crooks,” said Mr. Arrogant American.
My other two dining car buddies immediately shoveled more rice and salad into their stomachs. A zillion remarks zipped through my head in the matter of milliseconds. Instead of educating him or throwing my plate at his head, I resorted to a sarcastic quip about how it’s a shame so many people are uninformed.
Dinner was okay, I questioned how much of the chicken was chicken, but I was too hungry to truly care. I had one more night’s sleep in a coach seat, a few more movies to watch, and then I’d be greeted by my in-laws on the platform where my journey to what opportunities I could create in California would begin.