Richmond, VA ᛫ November 17 – 30, 2017

USA | 0 comments

I returned to Richmond, VA, after five years. I was very happy to see my former host family again and stay in my old room. Coming home for Thanksgiving… 😉

Home during fall surrounded by trees and bushes in Richmond, VA

My American home looks especially nice during the fall season. I used to live in the room right above the front door for almost a year from 2007 – 2008 and returned several times after that.

Getting to Richmond, VA, was a bit of a struggle though. After missing my first plane, I left California late at night. At first, I flew from San Francisco, CA, to Denver, CO, with the worst turbulence I ever experienced. Almost the entire five hours we were in the air the plane was shaking and sometimes fell into air holes. Usually, I get nervous in situations like that, but I was so tired that I just put on my sleeping mask, put in earplugs, tried to ignore the turbulence and sleep. It worked a little bit, but I kept waking up when we hit another air hole. I was relieved when we finally landed. After some breakfast at the airport, I took the next plane to Washington D.C. This flight was much better and had only a little turbulence.

When I landed, I already planned in my head what to do as soon as I got my backpack; brush my teeth, change clothes and freshen up because I hadn’t done any of that in more than 24 hours and felt gross. Of course, I was also exhausted and tired. Unfortunately, my backpack didn’t make it to the East Coast and they also had no idea where it was. That was the last straw and I had a meltdown right at the airline counter. I could not hold my tears and it was difficult to fill out the lost luggage form because I could barely see. 😀 After calming down, I took an Uber taxi to the bus station and then a bus to Richmond at last.

Coming Home

My former host mother, Leslie, picked me up and immediately lifted my mood because I hadn’t seen her in five years. Ten years ago, I was a foreign exchange student and lived with her and her family for almost a year. We drove to their house and it felt like coming home. I could even stay in my old room and sleeping in my old bed after traveling for 27 hours was like a dream come true.

When I woke up, we ate dinner with my American dad, Joe, and then went over to their son’s house. Since I had last seen Alan, he got married and had a 10-month-old son named Joey. He is one of the cutest babies I’ve ever met. He was often described as a flirt because he keeps smiling and laughing at you. During the two weeks I was there, I also saw him cry and whine, but most of the time, he was just the happiest little dude.

Dreadlock girl with host mother at Monacan High School football game in Richmond, VA

Home of the Chiefs: We went to see an American football game at my former school Monacan High School.

American Football Game

That evening, Joe stayed with Joey and Leslie, Alan, his wife Maggie and I went to Monacan High School where I studied 10 years earlier. It was fun to be back there and the reason we went was a football game. The Monacan team was undefeated in 11 games. When we arrived, they were already playing, and Monacan was a couple of points ahead. I tried to follow what was going on, but it took a while until I remembered some of the rules.

It was probably one of the most typical American experiences I had since arriving in the US; football players and coaches concentrating on the game, cheerleaders dancing and the school band playing. I had the feeling that the audience didn’t cheer as much as we did when I was a “Monacan Chief”. But maybe that was due to the weather because it was freezing cold. Thankfully, Leslie had given me some clothes to wear but we all got cold after a while. Sadly, Monacan lost the game, but it was a nice night anyway.

The next day I slept until early afternoon and it felt so good. For the first time since I left Germany in September, I stayed in one place for a “longer” time and could relax a little bit. On top of that, I had my own room, ate good food and could even use Leslie’s car. It felt like luxury. 🙂 Luckily, my backpack was found and delivered to me in the evening. Of course, I was very relieved.

The Thanksgiving Feast

The reason why I chose to visit my American family during that time was Thanksgiving. It was a great opportunity to see “moore” family members. Them being so welcoming and treating me as part of their family made me exceedingly thankful that year. At first, we went to church with Alan, Maggie and her side of the family. After the service, we all went to eat tasty doughnuts.

Thanksgiving table with food and family eating in Winchester, VA

Eating delicious food with my American family on Thanksgiving. From left to right: My “dad” Joe, me, his sister Sue, “mom” Leslie, “brother” Ben, Matt’s girlfriend Kaitlin, “brother” Matt and “cousin” Lindsay. 😉

Then Leslie, Joe and I drove to Winchester, VA, to their son Matt’s house. When we arrived he and his girlfriend Kaitlin, the third brother of the family Ben, Joe’s sister Sue and her daughter Lindsay were already there. It was nice to catch up with all of them while the turkey sizzled in the oven. When it was finished, we all ate until our stomachs hurt. There was just sooo much delicious food: turkey naturally, corn pudding, pumpkin bread, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry jam, broccoli salad and for dessert cheesecake, apple pie and a family tradition a rainbow jello mold. Afterward, we spent a fun night playing a dice game and watching Netflix. Matt had enough space for all of us to spend the night.

What I Did in RVA

During my time in Richmond, I met up with old friends, ran some errands, played pickleball with Leslie, and spent many hours organizing and saving digital files. In San Diego, I had bought a new MacBook because my old one was getting too slow. In Richmond, I also bought a new iPhone because my old one kept telling me the storage was full and I couldn’t take or send any pictures anymore. My old devices where both six years old so it was kind of ok to buy new ones. I would have preferred my old ones to work longer, of course. Transferring all the stuff from the old MacBook and iPhone to my external hard drive and to the new ones took much longer than expected.

In addition, I had the plan to get my rastas fixed during my time in Richmond. Since the hairs on my scalp had grown out so much, it was a mess that I couldn’t lock myself. After some searching, I found a hair salon that even had the word dreads in their name. To my disappointment, they did it wrong. So I had to hope for better luck with my next destination Jamaica. Read more about my dread journey >

Rasta girl with birthday cake and baby looking at it in Richmond, VA

Even though it might look like this cake was meant for Joey, it was actually for me. 😀 On my last night in Richmond, VA, my American parents surprised me with an early birthday present. It was a black forest cake and very tasty. And of course, Joey also got a piece. 🙂

I Love Sweeeets ?

Since Richmond was my last stop before leaving the US, I ate as many delicious American sweets as possible. Cookie dough, cookies, brownies, ice cream, cake, and milkshakes were my favorites. Of course, I also ate tasty healthy food. 😀 I can recommend these restaurants that I went to (many with my American parents): iThaiz Restaurant, Boulevard Burger and Brew, Chick-fil-A and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Furthermore, I enjoyed shopping at Aldi, a German grocery store that hadn’t been there the last time I visited. In Germany, it is known for its cheap, but good quality products. And that was also true for the American store.

Besides all of that, we went to some really cool places like the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Dominion GardenFest of Lights. Seeing all the lights in the botanical gardens was especially fun because Joey was a delight to everyone. In the evenings, we often watched Joe’s favorite show Kimmy Schmitt, which is pretty funny.

Time to Say Goodbye

The two weeks in Richmond went by faster than I wanted because I really enjoyed my stay. On the last day, I made dinner for my American family and they got me an early black forest birthday cake which was very nice. The next day, it was very sad to have to say goodbye. But at the same time, I was also excited for my next destination in a tropical climate. Leslie drove me to the Richmond airport and from there I took a plane to Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Florida was only a stopover. But there was enough time to meet a couchsurfer and stay at his place for a night. He was a fun guy, took me to the beach and around the city a bit. The next day, he drove me back to the airport and I flew to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

See More Pictures of My Time in Richmond, VA

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