Across America in a 2CV
Episode II : Exploration

Our first encounter with the most powerfull country of the world is a huge, deep, shock. There are no words to explain what a European guy can feel walking among gigantic glass buildings without seing anybody on the rare sidewalks. The weather is hot and muggy and it seems that a mysterious virus has destroyed all life form, excepted traffic lights and Coca-Cola machines.

houston, buildings
Houston : gigantic glass buildings and nobody around...

To try to find where the people were, we decide to go to the "main street".
As we are approaching, the scenery is reminding us a few episodes of "Starsky & Hutch". When we turn left to enter main street, we do enter in a live episode... but there is no Starsky or any Hutch around ! After twenty meters of silent walking, we realize that we are the two only people able to apply for the role of Starsky or Hutch. All the others can only apply for the role of Huggy...
We pass a group of guys where the bigger one has a base-ball bat crossed over his shoulders... This lead us to slowly and silently turn left in the first "not main" street on our left to escape that urban jungle.

On monday, we go to claim the 2CV. Due to efficiency of custom officers, there are no problems with the forms, which are filled very easily and quickly. We go to the docks, to find our 2CV with the battery dead. Even towed by a powerfull V8 pick-up, the 2CV engine refuses to start. We must charge the battery. The trouble is there is no store with 6 volts batteries on the Houston docks ! Fortunately, a kind Texan, attracted by the 2CV, proposes us to take the battery and to bring it back, charged, before the end of the afternoon.

houston docks
Docks of Houston, waiting for the battery to come back

Two hours later, the battery is fitted into the 2CV, Sylvain pulls the choke and, carefully, the cable of the starter... ruuhh... ruuhh... ruuhh... Vraaaooooommmm ! The engine starts and the battery guy looks at it a few seconds then looks at us and lough :

I can't believe it, I really can't believe it : it works !?

It is 17h20. The entrance on the docks, from where we came, is now closed. We desperatly drive among the containers, seeking from an exit. We find one, with a policeman. Puzzled by the 2CV, he looks at us as if we were Kirk and Spock driving the Enterprise. Suddenly, half a dozen of policemen are around the 2CV.
They are just all very curious about the 2CV and, once the gate pass has been shown, we have to face a lot of friendly questions. The fact that the engine is a flat-twin seems impossible to one of them. Sylvain opens the hood to show the engine. The policeman looks at it, then looks at us and lough :

That's not a car, that's a motorbike !

After that long afternoon, we face the highways to go back to our motel. It is to be said : US people are driving fast... relative to the speed of a 2CV moved with a 425 CC engine. Fortunately, our very special "look" protects us and other cars always come around very friendly.

That friendly attitude has been always the same each time we stopped, and the 2CV was often pictured and video-taped.
An other kind of friendly attitude appears when we go, for the third time, to the little Tex-Mex restaurant nearby our motel. Seing us coming out from the 2CV, all the waitress hurry to find us a table. For an unknown reason they all appear to be much more attentive today than yesterday...

For the beginning of our trip, we go "West !" from Houston, straight ahead across Texas.

Texas road
Texas, the Wild, Wild West...

That first part of the travel is marvelous : White Sands, Lincoln Forest... all is even more beautiful than the legend says. Something really different from Europe is that when you leave the last house of a town, you also leave civilization... and quickly understand that here, in the land of high technology, nature is the master.

In each place where we stop, people come around with questions, such as :
- Where are you coming from ?
From France.
- Oooh ! yes ? France... the Eiffel Tower... Pigalle... Are you from Paris ?
No, we are from Toulouse.
- "To-lose" ? I've never heard about it... Is that far from Paris ?
Yes, it's on the south. It is a big town. The plane Concorde was built there, and now the European Airbus planes and the Ariane rockets are build there.
- Oooh... Concorde... what a nice plane ! But "Airbus" and "Ariane", I've never heard about them.
- What is that car, a Renault ? (variant : what the hell is that ugly car !?)
It is a Citroën, a Citroën 2CV.
- "tsitrown ?" I've never heard about it...

Episode I : GenesisEpisode III : The end