Whilst we won’t be posting every day of our journey, it would be remiss not to talk about our very first day as pretend penniless travellers.
*rewinding tape sound*
We arrived at our first couchsurfing host’s central apartment around 11pm, after a good flight (a computer glitch meant we got free wine!) and a good twenty minutes of Lilly being questioned in a holding room in the airport: “Why have you changed your hair?”, “Why have you changed your name?”, “Why do you travel so much?”. Favourite questions of all American officials, it seems.
Our Couchsurfing host is a bashment rapper with the most incredible dreads and a home recording studio, who was more than happy to have us stay for two nights and pick us up from the airport. He quickly offered us wine and we knew we would be just fine, exhausted into easy sleep on a huge lazy boy sofa (the pain of jet lag).
The next morning we woke up early (the pleasure of jet lag) and set off in search of food. We bought emergency rations of protein bars to the USA, but we knew we’re too stubborn to eat them any time soon. Wholefoods was our first stop, supplying us with handfuls of taster cheese – not quite the highlife, especially as I don’t like cheese, but beggars definitely can’t be choosers. We’d heard that Wholefoods in Cambridge had a great dumpster so that was next on the list to scope out, being just a few miles over the river. On the way we found an amazing ice cream parlour with a huge array of exotic flavours, and discovered there’s almost no limit to the amount of times you can say “oh, that one sounds nice, can I try some?”.
Full of ice cream and cheese, but wary that the feeling wouldn’t last long, we arrived at Wholefoods in Cambridge and ventured round the back to find the dumpsters, bumping into an employee taking out old boxes. After a friendly chat with him we discovered that as much as he would love to give us stuff, they’ve recently started boxing up anything that is still edible and donating it to a project called “Food for Free” here in Boston, who collect food and deliver it to low income families, the disabled, elderly and homeless. Like Ocado, but free!
This is absolutely fantastic news, and a great project, but our stomachs didn’t quite agree. Since we were in Cambridge, home of Harvard and MIT, we decided to go see what we could find on campus. Pretending to be students and wandering the halls of MIT we came across a stall handing out hot chocolate for free from the ‘MIT Chocolate Science Labs’ and it was SO GOOD. We gladly downed our cups and set off on the long wander home.
On the way we went to a huge library to see if they had an envelope we could use to lock away our cards and money (as proof of no spending over five months!) and the man who greeted us was so disappointed we weren’t there to see the new map exhibit that he had no time for us and shooed us over to reception. The girl there heard our story and looked thoroughly for an envelope in her desk whilst we gazed around the huge hall.
“Psst, take one from the card stand” the girl whispered sharply as she glanced around, making sure no one had heard her advocate our theft. We thanked her profusely and pinched a small envelope meant for a greetings card, rushing out the door back into the Boston sunshine.
By the time we got home we had walked over 13 miles, exhausted and rosy cheeks and wondering what to do for dinner. Nigel our host had kindly given us the keys to his flat so we let ourselves in, had a nap and scrolled through Craigslist looking for food opportunities. Success! A guy was moving out of his flat and had some fridge items to give away…in Cambridge. For the second time we head out and three miles later arrived at Tristan’s house to collect veggie chicken burgers, sweet potato fries, hot sauce and mayonnaise.
I can honestly say that veggie burgers and sweet potato never tasted so good.
Today we’re off to seek out some old Bostonians who run a food waste programme selling bags of groceries for a dollar, who will give you a bag of groceries if you help out with leafleting for a couple of hours. Kerching.