You are going to Microsoft offices in Washington they told me. USA states geography not being my forte I thought: Great! maybe I'll get to see the Lincoln memorial and stuff. Later than sooner I discovered that Washington state is something very different, and far from the city of Washington, and that I had to cross all the country from Miami, florida, to dallas, to tacoma, all the way to the top of the west coast, close to the border with Canada. Longest trip I've ever made, flying time plus airport waits were more than 20 hours, go figure.
The first thing that surprised me, was that everybody seemed to understand spanish. In Miami I took it for granted, but then in Dallas it happened again, and even in Seattle I would find lots of people speaking spanish, and stores managed by hispanics (like me;) mostly mexicans I guess. So the first feeling was something like, the country is being taken over silently by hispanics, poetic justice?.
The next thing I sensed was that I was inside a movie. This is a weird feeling that may even be difficult to understand for americans. If you were born outside the states, the most likely thing is that you may have grown up watching american films and series, where you'd get to see everything about the usa culture&places. So when faced in 3D with all that, my brain started mapping everything I was looking at with movie memories.
Everything was a cliche, everything felt stereotyped, like going to blockbuster and being attended by a nerdy looking, fat guy with a blockbuster hat, or seeing black people dressed hip hop styled every now and then, or entering hooters while "The power of love" (back to the future soundtrack) was playing, and I could go on...
People seemed nice everywhere. Every store I would walk into someone would say "hey there", or "hi, how are you doing", like in a very informal and friendly manner, not at all what am I used to in Uruguay. It was really weird, since where I come from if someone asks me "how am i doing" it's usually to start a meaningful conversation, it's not used in day to day store paying social protocol, here it's more formal, like: good day, good afternoon, and stuff like that. At the same time while I in airports I was reminded every now and then by the sight of a marine that the country is on a war state. My mind is getting confused by now, I'm trying to figure how come this nice-people-country doesn't have a problem with going to war every now and then, killing people around the world. Weird.
As a side note and funny fact, some downtown buildings play classical music to keep homeless off their entrances, or so they told me. Seems it's as if they were alergic to it.
I tried a dulce de leche cheesecake, bought in Seattle's downtown, in some place called "The cheesecake factory". They label it an argentinean flavor, never mentioning Uruguay, I'll never get used to stuff like that.
I went on a sunday morning to the Pike Place Market this market by the sea (lake/river/ocean/whatever), which I really enjoyed, it's a nice place to take a walk and just look at a nice diversity of stuff for sale (I even found yerba), and of people browsing it and walking by. There was this fish store where the guys would sing and yell, and fish would fly, quite the spectacle.
PD: Refill rocks!