In Las Vegas

When we spot Vegas for the first time it looks like a pile of cement covered in pollution in the middle of the desert. We drive through nothing special until we reach “the strip”, and we go right in the middle of it. We wanted the full Vegas experience of staying on the Las Vegas Bvd in a big hotel-casino so we searched the web the same morning to find a last minute deal: we’re staying two nights at Planet Hollywood! The place is right across the Bellagio and next to Paris, it’s crazy. I had no expectations about Vegas, I just wanted to see it, and I got amazed. The money flowing is visible here, and they do everything to make you spend yours. The sidewalks go through the casinos, and once you’re in a casino it’s impossible to get out. There’s no alleys in there, just a maze of machines and girls dancing around. The signs won’t tell you where you can get out, only where the shopping mall is, the aquarium, the restaurant… we walk a lot. You’d think the Mirage is just there, but you have to go through Ceasars first, the biggest of all. The Venetian has canals with gondolas, and Paris is so cute with the Eiffel tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

We take a few pictures in front of Paris but at the same exact time the worse mass shooting in US history is happening just a mile away at the Mandalay Bay. We can’t hear it, we just do our pictures and get back in the hotel. Ben notices a flow of police cars going past as we get in, then I got an alert on my phone but there’s no details yet. The strip is now closed, we stay in our room and watch the news for three hours. American news are trash, all they keep doing is broadcasting videos from people that were there, we can hear and see everything and it’s shocking. At this point we know it’s going to be an awful number of victims. We almost booked at the Mandalay, we almost went to see the Cirque du Soleil at the Mandalay, I feel so close to this that my sadness takes over my angriness about this country. People were just having fun, but because one man has been able to purchase more than 30 guns including machine guns, and bring 22 in his hotel room, 58 died and 500 are injured. The irony of it happening in Vegas, the symbol of a country that lives for the money and is governed by lobbying… and once again pro-guns are saying the others are wrong and disrespectful bringing the subject on the table after people died. We watch Fox news the next day and they just point out that this is not the right time to talk about gun control (according to them). And with an average of one mass shooting a day in this country, it’s never a good time to talk about it… (check http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/ for some statistics)

On our second day we continue walking the strip on the side we didn’t see, near the Mandalay Bay. The area is closed there, and we can see the broken window from which the shooter aimed. There are police cars and men everywhere, people thank them for their service. Otherwise, it’s all the same, gambling, eating and drinking. The New York New York hotel and casino is another notable one with its reproductions of famous landmarks.

At the end of the day we head to downtown Vegas. On the way from the strip to downtown it’s a jungle of empty lots, strip clubs, wedding chapels, law offices and abandoned motels. More proofs that the country lives for the temporary benefits of money. On Fremont Street the music is blasting and the casinos around are older. It’s a different atmosphere, it feels smaller and more historical. The neon lights at night are incredible. I love old signs and lucky enough there’s a neon museum. Next day we go there and see up close some signs of places that made history in Vegas, like the Riviera, seen in many movies. Turns out signs are rented from the company that makes them. And to conclude our visit of Vegas we go see the most famous sign of all: “Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas”.

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