Saturday 27th September. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
I sat up working on my journal updates till after 4:00 a.m at Kerry and Pat's place in Orrville. That gave me about three hours sleep, since I was up for breakfast just after seven. Pat rustled up some eggs and hashbrowns, and of course Zach and I tucked into the ol' Vegemite again. A few cups of coffee were also in order before I could properly open my eyes.
Kerry started work early, but Pat works the second shift so had time to show me around a bit in the morning. I figured it would probably take a few different lifts to Pittsburg, so wanted to get on the road before noon. We drove around the farming areas to the south of town, a predominantly Amish area. It felt like I'd travelled into another country, and maybe even back in time. Along the back roads, horse drawn buggies seemed to be almost as common as automobiles. Amish men were out harvesting corn and ploughing the fields using centuries-old farming methods. They don't really appreciate being a tourist attraction, so I tried to be subtle with my photography. Still, I'm happy with a couple of the shots from my first encounter with the mysterious Amish.
The hitchhiking Gods were smiling on me that day. about fifteen minutes after Pat dropped me at the highway on-ramp, I had a lift. The driver was an anaethesiologist *translation=anaethsetist* on his way to Pittsburgh. It was a great lift all the way to downtown Pittsburgh, and he was an interesting guy. Egyptian-born Medhat had lived and worked in Australia and New Zealand, and regularly volunteers for Medicins Sans Frontieres. He was also telling me that Amina Lawal, the Nigerian woman who'd been sentenced to death by stoning for the crime of adultery, has had her sentence revoked. You might remember that I posted an appeal for her on my website some months ago, directing readers to the Amnesty International website, where you could sign a petition to support her appeal. Medhat said that millions of people around the world signed the petition, and world leaders personally phoned the big boss in Nigeria, warning him that he should be careful on this issue. Anyway, the long and short of it is that she's been allowed to live, which just goes to prove what I've alwasy said: You can have adultery without getting stoned. *I should've been a comedian*
Amy, my host in Pittsburgh, was working until five o'clock, and I got into town at about two. That gave me time to orient myself with this new city, and make several futile attempts to plug my laptop in at Kinko's. Not sure what's going wrong on that point, but I didn't have any success with the Kinko's in Dayton yesterday either. My computer's just not recognizing the connection.
Amy met me outside her work building at five. She works as a legal secretary, a job she describes with little enthusiasm. In an attempt to save the funds for her own overseas trip next year, she also works a second job in the fashion section of a department store. We dumped my backpack into the trunk of her car, and she took me on a little walking tour of Pittsburgh. I'd already noticed a couple of unusual things about Pittsburgh. For one, it has a lot of very old buildings- some streets in the downtown area feel almost English or European. Also, Pittsburgh has more bridges than I've seen in any city since Paris. At one point, I believe you can see eight different bridges. It's very much a river city, built on the point where three rivers connect. The Allegheny and Monongahela *say that three times real quick* Rivers meet right in Pittsburgh, and become the mighty Ohio River. Amy was looking forward to showing me the huge fountain in downtown Point State Park, but the fountain was turned off and dry as a bone. Doh!
Amy took me to Sharp Edge, one of her favourite restaurants, where I had a serving of nachos that was so big I couldn't finish it. We went for a ride on the 'incline', a cable tram ride up the steep slope overlooking Pittsburgh. It was a pretty brief ride up and back, but you could wander around along the top, and it was a great view of the city skyline. Then we headed out to meet some of Amy's friends. There was Brian, Brian and Chris. I forgot which one wasn't a Brian, so referred them all as 'mate'. We started off in a noisy, crowded bar, then adjourned to a quieter establishment, then settled on an upstairs pool hall, where we were joined by another one of the boys, Mike.
"You may notice that I hang around a lot of non-women types." Amy said.
I played to my usual lousy standard, but succeeded in winning a couple of games through waiting for my opponents sinking the white off the black. *strategy* The one thing that each bar had in common was very cheap drinks, as low as $1.25 a pint. My host and her friends had put quite a bit of dedicated research into finding these places, I feel. The local Pennsylvania brew Yeungling Lager seemed to be the flavour of the day, and was quite pallatable. My brave attempt to finish a bottle of Pittsburgh's own Iron City beer was much lauded but unsuccessful. After only three hours sleep last night, I was well and truly ready for bed by the time the others called it a night.