Tomorrow morning, we fly out of the fifth largest city in the US (Phoenix) and head off to San Blas, Mexico via a circuitous route that takes us through Dallas, Texas. We've enjoyed being here, but we're both ready to move on from this lovely gated community on the edge of the desert.
I don't want to be too much of a hypocrite as we've enjoyed having a pool and spa in our backyard, a lovely big house and excessive air conditioning but this state has some whack policies. It doesn't want illegal immigrants, but it wants to be able to employ people for low wages - I can't help but wonder how many of the city's elite think their homes and pools were built so cheaply, or why they are able to pay the maid so little to clean the big house... I digress.
There are plenty of things I've loved about this place, and other things that have made me miss England just a little bit. Here's my list:
Better in Arizona
- Sunshine - it's sunny pretty much every day here. My serotonin levels are through the roof!
- In city hiking - you don't need to go outside of the city to enjoy beautiful hikes and see interesting wild life.
- Wild life - The only critters we saw in Islington were the occasional dog or cat. Arizona is filled with really unique wild life including snakes, Javelinas, lizards and more bunnies than I've ever seen in one place. The plants are also really beautiful and interesting and most of the desert has been in bloom since we arrived - beautiful.
- Sunsets - Because it is rarely cloudy, you can see them better here and there aren't a lot of tall buildings where we're staying to block the view.
- Dairy Queen - I've always been disappointed by the selection of ice cream in London. There are a few stands in central London but I've found these to be overpriced and generally poor quality; apart from those, it's ice cream sandwiches from news agents or nothing. The US has Dairy Queen, which is just as good as I remember it being.
- Service - Generally, service in restaurants and shops is better here. People are just friendlier and more helpful - they understand that being pleasant is part of their job.
- Public transportation - I'm told that there is some kind of tram in central Phoenix and a few buses one can take. Out in Scottsdale, where we're staying, there is absolutely no public transportation to speak of - I have yet to even see a taxi out here. Just to go to the store for a treat is about a 20 minute drive. I really do miss the convenience of not needing a vehicle and London gets public transport so very, very right.
- Chocolate - The USA is the land of Hershey and, I'm sorry, but Hershey is not very good chocolate. Cadbury and other brands are also occasionally available, but you have to go looking for them. I miss Twirls and the range of other good news agent brand chocolate bars in London.
- City Centre - Phoenix is a city of sprawling suburbs and even in outlying communities, there isn't much evidence of a core. The result is a city that feels disconnected from itself and, apart from the political brouhaha, without much identity to tie its people together. Although London's center is very tourism-focused, there are so many lovely little neighbourhoods - great spots to meet, talk, play ... Phoenix doesn't have anything like this from what I can see (though I am going to Ignite Phoenix tonight, so maybe I'll be proven wrong).
- Sustainable, cruelty-free food - Apart from the very expensive specialty markets, it is very hard to find free range anything in Phoenix. Even at Safeway, which is by no means cheap, we had to look very hard to finally find a brand of eggs from non-caged chickens. It's sad that you have to spend a fortune to be able to eat with some morality - eating cruelty free should not be a privilege for the wealthy. In the UK, free range options are more expensive than non-free range, but there are lots of options and the price isn't so high that it's prohibitive.
- Diversity and cultural policy - Arizona's politics reminds me of what it might be like if the BNP actually held any power in the United Kingdom. It's scary.