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DiaryAcesta este jurnalul lui Jan. Pentru a primi o copie prin mail inregistreaza-te pe formularul de contact. Momentan jurnalul este numai in engleza, catalana si spaniola.
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Montreal, QC (see on map)
Montreal is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second largest city in Canada, and the second largest city, with French speakers (after Paris). For two days, we visited Montreal by bike, enjoyed the many bike lanes that the city has, being even closer to the European appearance, but did not have any sufficiently interesting historical center, just like most visited cities in the United States and Canada. Most interesting perhaps was the Jean-Talon market visited the final day, where they came with fruits and vegetables in the open air at a price much cheaper than the supermarkets.
As always, the most exciting in American cities was the interaction with people, particularly with our hosts, which turned to be sweethearts. Guillaume, Emilie and their daughter Sara put us wonder, introducing us to several friends, all French speakers, who had trouble speaking fluent English with us. During a dinner with friends, Guillaume told us the story of Quebec, beginning his penance after the war of 7 years when France lost Quebec in the hands of England. Then we were told that the Quebec independence sentiment worsened in the middle of the twentieth century, when the Quebecois could only access the low-paid jobs. Anyway, now Quebec has a large autonomy within a federal state and the main reasons for wanting independence are essentially cultural or sentimental. It could even be that the Quebec economic losing weight if gained independence, it does not experience an economic takeover as in Catalonia where, according to analysts, there is a deficit of 10% of Catalan GDP, ie, annually 10% of the Catalan wealth is distributed in the rest of Spain. Given this, I wonder why the yearning for independence in Quebec is higher than the Catalan-as I suspect, as in Catalonia do not think we got a result as favorable as in the Quebec referendum, where 49.42% of the population voted in for independence.
In another dinner at home, I asked Guillaume why in the Canadian $ 20 bills appeared the image of the Queen of England and the numbers of roads were framed within a crown. Guillaume laughed half ashamed and then confessed that the framers of the constitution of 1982 declared independence from England but preferred to keep their queen. Canada currently pays nothing to the crown, but she supports a representative of royalty or governor who must ratify all laws passed by parliament. Finding no sense to this old political system, then we also asked why so many people are in favor of continuing royalty in many countries, including Australia, where 54.4% of the population voted in favor of keeping the monarchy in the referendum 1999.
Returning to motivate the project ┤`taking the pulse of the world,┤` I interviewed Guillaume in Spanish, who thought that the biggest problem of the world was the lack of understanding among people, getting all the other problems worse. Regionally, the biggest problem with Canada is the polarization of positions and the division of the community, which does not allow leaders to be accepted by all. Guillaume on personal level was happy and in the future probably nothing could make him happier because he was already living in happiness.
In Montreal, Alexandra asked me to meet another person in Couchsurfing, Alex, who had come by car from Mexico. It was important to know through Alex if we could sell our Chevy van in Central America and better do it before leaving the U.S.. Similarly, it was interesting to hear the experience of Alex in Mexico, which was not too good, explaining that it was a country at war and had lived several shootings and many moments of tension. So much so, Alex stated that he had lost all desire to travel alone and is now seen to live in Canada, a country that is safe, quiet and relaxed. The only downside to the meeting is that Alexandra was shocked, including myself, because again in Mexico fear that Alexandra again have new nervous breakdown comparable to those of Africa or Pakistan.
Finally, we used our stay in Montreal to reunite with a good friend of the Basque Country, I˝igo and fellow Canadian Sarah, who we had met in Xian, China. After 3 years of travel, Sarah had returned to work, but I˝igo was completely lost, he could not work legally in Canada and in Spain he had not found work. We spent many hours talking, about trivial things but also the problems faced by many travellers, for whom travel is a drug that will keep you hooked throughout life, a drug that may only be payed with money, forcing them to be long periods stuck in an office or factory, awaiting the next dose of travel.
Quebec City we loved, and it is not surprising, as if so far we complained that cities in North America used to be rather boring and lacking the history of Europe, Quebec is quite different. Quebec City was founded in 1608, is considered the first permanent settlement (since no commercial) in North America built by non-Spanish. In particular it was founded by the French, who built a mighty citadel walls, constituting the only walled city in North America. However, the walls did not prevent the city from falling into British hands in 1763, at the end of the Seven Years War against France. Apart from the ramparts and cobbled streets, the city retains many of its old houses built of stone, with windows divided into small rectangles of glass, sloping roofs of slate or metal, small windows, overhanging roofs, ... Occupying many of these buildings were restaurants, shops and art galleries marked among which French aesthetic was nice to walk, which we did the two days we spent in Quebec, in spite of the cold (10 degrees C).
In Quebec City we were hosted by a man, Benoit, which was continually accommodating different Couchsurfing travellers with whom we felt comfortable despite the cold and aloof temperament contrasted with Canada┤s previous hosts. Asking on Quebec feelings, Benoit explained that he was a separatist because he wanted to protect the language and culture of Quebec, which would disappear in 100 years if not for the driving laws in the province, forcing to use French, laws which tend to be knocked over by the Constitutional Court of Canada, by a constitution that has not been signed by Quebec. Anyway, I also said that many French do not want independence because they fear that the economy will suffer. Finally, asked about the possibility of holding a new referendum on independence in the future, Benoit was pessimistic and said they would never get independence because ever more immigrants arrive and are unidentified with QuÚbec culture, but they are necessary because Quebecers and Canadians do not have enough children.
Having spent almost every day in Canadian cities, hosted by different members of Couchsurfing, we wanted to get back to nature and sleep closely in the van, despite the cold nights (5 ░ C). Anyway, at night we were better organized, we bought some new blankets and in the morning turning on the engine to heat a bit.
The first day we visited the National Park Jacques Cartier, a few miles north of Quebec, where we could use the card that Ewa gave us in Toronto. The park was ok, mostly because it was autumn and all leaves of the trees were tinged with yellow, many of which had already fallen. Perhaps we were captivated by Algonquin Provincial Park, but we also did a hike to the top of a mountain, where we enjoyed a good view over the river and woods.
The next day we began our route towards the east along the north coast of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. We wanted to make a lot of miles and reach distant places, but the offices of Canada and Quebec work great (much better than in the U.S.) and gave us much information to visit various attractions along the road that eventually had to abandon due to time constraints. At the end of Quebec we visited the falls of Montmorency, one of the highest in Canada with 84 meters, nice but of course not as spectacular as Niagara Falls, also in Canada. Then we stopped at the magnificent basilica of Santa Ana (the grandmother of Jesus), where it was celebrated a mass with few participants, confirming the suspicion that Canadian society was much less religious than in the USA. In the afternoon we parked the car in the village of Baie Saint Paul, that different people had recommended us to visit. But while Baie Saint Paul was a village of old and interesting houses, we were disillusioned by the many cars that continually rolled along the streets and the large amount of power or communications cables connecting homes, precluding a good picture. What I really enjoyed most was the small island of Coudres, where we spent the night, crossing the sea with a frequent free ferry. The next day we were just captivated by the island, we walked for an hour before catching the ferry back to mainland. From there we continued the road towards the east, approaching the whale route, a large coastal area that is frequented by many species of whales, some in their permanent habitat. Unfortunately, we did not see any whales either time we approached the cliffs. At night we crossed the Saguenay Fjord with another free ferry the next day we headed to the Baie Sainte Marguerite, where in theory you can see beluga whales. I made a nice walk to the bay, but the tide was low and there was no sign of whales.
Fortunately, that morning we received the email response from Couchsurfing from a man that offered us accommodations in Les Eucoumins, a town near Tadoussac, where we were at that time. After visiting the Baie Sainte Marguerite, in the afternoon we drove to Piere┤s home, who received us wonderfully. Commenting the misfortune of the whales, Pierre made us look out the window of his house towards the sea, and we could observe surprised the black back of a whale out of the water and then sank showing their tail into the air briefly. Excited by the vision, Piere proposed and convinced us to visit the Cabo de Bon Desir, where whales were more frequent. But there was little later when going back to the house of Pierre, that we could see a few more whales jutting into the surface of the water.
At night, after showering and booking a ferry to cross the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the south, Alex cooked a delicious pasta for dinner. During dinner the friend that Pierre had invited surprised me, because she could not understand any English, like many other French-speaking, a very different situation in Catalonia, where absolutely all catalans understand Spanish. After dinner I became interested in the views of Pierre, who happened to be very anti-American or anti-US, believing even the Twin Towers attack of September 11 were planned by the U.S. government as an excuse to invade Afghanistan. The next day we continued our conversation as we walked through the small village of Les Escoumins, returning soon with the cold and wind. Unfortunately, when I get home Pierre had a telephone message reporting that Les Escoumins ferry had been canceled due to bad weather. Pierre told us that in Baie Comeau and Godbout ferry had a bigger chance to go ever with bad weather, but they were full that evening and booked in for another ferry at 11 am next day.
We woke up early and drove the 250 km that separated us from Godbout, heavy rain and gusting wind. Upon arrival we were informed that the ferry had been canceled by the rough seas and we could try to catch the ferry at 5 pm from Baie Comeau. Discouraged by these contingencies, we retreat the 50 miles to Baie Comeau and locked ourselves to the local library connected to the Internet and hoping to pass the time. Finally, in the afternoon we went to the ferry, where they announced that this would leave soon because the weather had improved. However, once we got to sea we wonder how it should be in rough sea in the morning, because in the evening the ship was moving quite a lot giving me and Alexandra a vomit feeling. Alexandra kept saying she wanted to go home and honestly, at that time I also wanted, but later when we finally landed the desire had passed.
We slept near Matane, where we landed, under a fine rain that never stopped falling overnight. The next day, seeing that the weather did not improve, I was about to change the itinerary and not drive the 400 miles around the Gaspe Peninsula. But after a while connecting to the Internet and to consult an optimistic prediction of the time,I decided to risk it. And definitely worth it, because at night (after stopping a few hours shopping, cooking and eating) we visited Forillon National Park, which offered us a fantastic view of the rocky headland that stretched beyond. Tuesday I went down to take some photos on the beach and the next morning I made a few more for a nice hike to a lookout at the top of the cliffs, with magnificent views out to Forillon. Later we continued our journey along the Gaspe Peninsula, stopping at the charming town of Perce, before which stood a majestic rock surrounded by the sea. And finally slept out of the GaspÚ peninsula, near where a guy of Couchsurfing lived, who had offered the accommodation but had provided a phone number that did not work.
Alexandra told me that she was OK, because she was tired of meeting people and having to interact, cooking, ... Anyway, if we were traveling and sleeping in the van, Alexandra also complained it was too cold to cook for lunch or morning coffee was not hot. As for me, I was fine to meet with fewer people, but we needed to take a shower in the coming days and would be good if we were staying with someone.
The next day we went back to connect to the Internet and studied far as we could get the following days, finally deciding not to get closer to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia and visit only the city of Halifax, where we asked for accommodation through Couchsurfing. It was a shame not to visit Cape Breton recommended by many of our friends, but we were constrained by the date of entry into the United States and did not want to make too many miles in a hurry. Within days, on October 25 and we would have gotten a month in Canada, the minimum time to be able to obtain a new visa to U.S. for six months. Anyway, if they refused to give us this visa extension, we still had chances to extend the previous six months visa if we requested before 26 October. So, necessarily we had to cross the border on day 25.
On the way to visit Halifax we went to Kouchibouguac National Park, where we spent the night in spite of seeing a pair of black bears in the evening. The next day we took a short walk in the park, walking along a footbridge over wetlands to the beach, but marred by the wind and cold. Leaving the park we were pleased to connect to Internet and read that a man offered to lodge us in Halifax, where we could finally take a shower after 6 nights camping. Maybe it was one of the times i had spent more without taking a shower in my life and although it was cold and if we had not been lodged, I knew that that night would make an exception and sleep in a hotel.
Wayne was another excellent host, but also somehow special. He received us in a bathrobe in a house full of books, boxes and junk everywhere. Then he explained that he was a retired Canadian military and in recent years had been doing business selling books and stuff in second hand markets, but had left and had not yet gotten rid of products that had piled up in order to sell . A little later we began to sense what his two true passions were: the occult, numerology applied to Alexandra, and sex, conforming only to tell different stories about sadomasochism group which met every Saturday in Halifax. In any case, leaving aside the hundreds of books on esotericism in the shelves and numerous vibrators, clamps and wives who had abandoned everywhere, Wayne was an interesting guy, funny and hospitable.
While Alexandra was resting and washing clothes, on Thursday, Wayne took me to Halifax to tour, drawing a card that had to park in the reserved parking for disabled people. During the tour, Wayne explained some hilarious anecdotes from the military, interspersed with different episodes in the history of Halifax, a city affected by many calamities. One of the first places I took was the Needham Ford memorial dedicated to the 2000 deaths of the largest pre-atomic explosion in human history, was raised during the First World War in 1917, when two ships carrying ammunition and TNT collided in the natural harbor of Halifax. Five years earlier, in 1912 another catastrophe had occurred relatively close to Nova Scotia when the great ship Titanic struck an iceberg and sank. Many of the recovered bodies of victims were transported and buried in the cemetery in Halifax, visited by dozens of tourist buses a day during the years following the screening of the film Titanic. We also visited the citadel built by the British in the nineteenth century, where it enjoyed a beautiful view of the city, which gave me the feeling that did not have much more to offer.
Anyway, the next day I returned to downtown Halifax with Alexandra to find out if the city was really interesting to visit, but after surviving the cold temperatures returning to downtown walking tour and a free shuttle bus, we decided to leave the city disappointed. We went to visit Peggy┤s Cove, a fishing village southwest of Halifax, really worth visiting. Despite the cold wind blowing as soon as we climbed the road behind the town towards the lighthouse, the view made me stop the car in the middle of the road and went to take pictures of the little lighthouse, the raging sea and the dramatic clouds that gave the final touch.
During these first months of this two-year journey across America, while driving, many times Alex and I have been talking about how our life will settle in Catalonia, after a total of six years traveling. It is after these conversations that inevitably I have the feeling that this last leg of the trip is ending long before it reaches its end. In part, I guess these thoughts are due to excessive passivity of the American trip, without excitement or culture shock. Perhaps the only thing so far had managed to stop our breath had been the natural wonders that we reserved the continent, as would be the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park. So far in Canada there had been nothing that we would have greatly surprised at, but without knowing it, the last two days we expect other stealthy natural wonder in the North West of Halifax, in the Bay of Fundy, which expires in and out daily with two tides about 115 billion tons or cubic meters of water.
Different people in Canada had recommended us to go to see the tides in the Bay of Fundy, the highest tides in the world, but until we approached and started to read some data, I did not think that would be so amazing to watch. But really they were. According to oceanographers, the time it takes a large wave to travel the entire length of the Bay of Fundy (290 kilometers) is almost the same time a period of the tide (decrease and increase). This agreement establishes a resonance frequency at the end of the bay causes abnormal tidal heights. Specifically, twice a day get 17-meter difference between the lowest and highest tide, completely extraordinary if we consider that the maximum slopes of the tides in the world does not exceed 2 meters.
Following a recommendation of Wayne, we went to see these spectacular tides in Halls Harbor. In the morning, upon awakening, the tide was low and I could walk among the few ships in the small port that lay on the ground, while the sea wave was smacking away from the pier. But by midday, the show was completely different, the water had risen about 9 meters in the morning and the boats bobbing on the wild, while the sea was firmly snapping the waves against the breakwater, making the water jump on these . The contrast of these two perspectives, separated by only six hours was fantastic, almost supernatural. Dazzled by the sight, in the afternoon I drove excited to the north side of the Bay of Fundy, where Ewa from Toronto had recommended us to observe the tidal force from Cape Hopewell. And indeed, the magic was repeated the next day. Early in the morning the water had been withdrawn and had exposed a large area of land and mysterious rocks eroded by tidal action. I walked along the beach that had been submerged during the night and I spent some time walking between large algae clapas trails and discovering hidden among the rocks. A few hours later, I returned at noon and could not help but go back to wonder why the water had risen to 10 meters and only showed the top of the rocks and had covered a huge expanse of bare earth.
Arcadia National Park (see on map)
We had just crossed the border between Canada and the United States, and Alexandra began to shout for joy. She had previously spent some sleepless nights stressed and fearing that we would have problems. In fact, the only problem that we could have was that the border officials would not want to extend the visa for six months more. But I was convinced we could persuade the police that we were just tourists and had no intention of staying permanently in the U.S.A. And indeed, the officers did not put problems in renewing our visas. I tried to share with the same intensity, the joy of Alexandra but I could not avoid the reproach that it had been useless suffering for no reason so many nights.
The second day in America we visited Arcadia National Park and slept in one of its deserted parks. But the next morning came a Ranger willing to give us a $ 100 fine for having stayed in the national park, something that is illegal. Fortunately, when I got my international driving permit out he said that it would be too complicated to get the fine and warned us not to return to camp in a natural park because he had entered my name into the system and the next time there would be no leniency.
Shortly after the Ranger┤s visit, we started ascending with the car to the Cadillac Mountain in the center of the park, where we could enjoy some amazing views of the peninsula half covered with fog and clouds. Then, we went to Sand Beach, where I intended to climb a small track to the summit of the peak Beehive, but the rock was wet and slippery enough and I decided to go back. I did not want to risk breaking a leg and consequently have to temporarily abandon the trip. In the afternoon we started driving to the small town of Castine, that we intended to visit the next day. But during the night and all morning it was raining and we had no choice but to drive up to Portland without visiting Castine, nor Augusta, the capital of the state of Maine.
Portland is the largest city in Maine, where we finally could take shelter from the rain in a cozy house where we were hosted by John, another man of couchsurfing. John proved to be a retired man with dreams of traveling and he had a passionate life. Among many anecdotes, he told us how he was lost for 10 days through the forests and mountains of Alaska and by luck found an inhabited hut. Each morning listening to radio news, he often expressed concern about the radicalization of political opinions in the United States, as they approached the next election to the Senate. For example, many Republicans were trying to instill radios to their electorate that Obama is a radical Muslim and who is not even American. But more worrying was that the Fox network, with host Rush Limbaugh to the head, tried to convince his listeners that the earth was not experiencing global warming. And many have already been convinced, including brothers and sisters of John, who did not want to check the information that came and finally replied that there were too many different opinions, it was difficult to draw any clear conclusion. According to John, this thought would be disastrous for future generations, but also for the American economy as well as in the past the U.S. industry had been producing cutting-edge cars and computers later, at this stage should focus on green technology to return and generate employment.
In the same line when i interviewed John, taking the pulse of the world: (www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4yiWnddguM), he said that the main problem of the world was global warming that will dramatically affect the entire planet , and we should solve the problem together, taking each country will be affected by the problem. The main problem in America is the Republican Party, which can destroy the country, so he tries to help in the solution by voting in all elections. On a personal level, John is more or less happy, but he would be better with a different attitude, basically using his secret of happiness, being happy with what you have, not what you want.
The day after our arrival in Portland I grabbed a bike and pedaled to the center of the city, with some older buildings constructed with bricks but not too attractive. I was taking a few steps around the port and by different cobblestone streets to convince myself that Portland was like most North American cities, with almost nothing interesting to offer. I came home a little disappointed and convinced that my views of American cities would not improve in the future. At that moment I remembered the comments of some of our friends in California, who thought we were devoting too many months to tour the United States, and I began to give them reason. I wanted to start the visit to Latin America, a land more rich in history and cultural contrasts. Anyway we still have about 8,000 or 10,000 miles and we still expect other U.S. regions and cities that could surprise us, as could be New York, Miami or New Orleans.
For some weeks, from Canada, i had scheduled our next visit to the United States and I had realized that we would be on October 31 in Salem, a famous city in 1692 where they had prosecuted several persons accused of witchcraft, as currently defined a city haunted or enchanted. This property qualified Salem as the ideal place to celebrate the pagan festival of Halloween (or All Saints). I wrote from time to Couchsurfing and one of the members answered to my hosting request. And surely was a wise decision, because little later I read an article that defined Salem as the best city in the world where you can celebrate Halloween. Similarly, hundreds of drivers had blocked on Saturday October 30th morning all entrances to the city. Fortunately, despite the chaos, we had booked Darrels free parking and we were able to discover the city with him and his girlfriend Michelle, both eager to party. On the street there are enough people in costume, scary or just dresses funny, like a carnival, although unlike the carnival in my town (Torello) there were fewer people wearing costumes. There were also many Japanese in disguise and intrigued by the festival and many other groups of tourists visiting the many haunted houses and other places categorized as the most terrifying of the United States.
However, there was something that surprised me more than people in disguise. On several corners there were Christian preachers (some of them Catholics) with banners or microphones and speakers , accusing the gay of worshiping the devil and inviting listeners to follow the path of Jesus. Fortunately, the youth in costumes did not pay attention to the preachers or simply kept listening and laughing is their face. The second day out we returned to Salem in disguise but on the way back home I was listening to one of those preachers and i took pictures. I was so fascinated by the nonsense that they were saying (for example, ┤Before I was a homosexual but Jesus saved me and I┤m cured┤) that i could not help but take pictures to immortalize those moments. But at one point the man confronted me and asked me:
Although i really enjoyed the Halloween party in Salem I had a feeling of grief, as a preacher reminded me that in that same town, the year 1692 and 1693 some like-minded religious zealots managed to accuse 150 people of witchcraft , getting them hanged or stoned about 20 of them. Tourists visiting the cemeteries of Salem and the homes of the accused witches or judges of the court walked without meditating too much on the sadness of the events. It all started when the daughters of a minister of the village suffered several seizures of madness that the family attributed to a spell. Then they began to accuse people of Salem, enemy families and often women that did not seem too Christian, using as evidence the spectral visions of the crazy girls and in the coming months 14 women and 5 men were sentenced and hanged. There was also another victim, a 81 year old man who refused to plead guilty or innocent, unable to be judged legally in two days he was drowned by the weight of the stones that were piled over his body. In this way, the man could keep their property (no life) and by inherited by his children.
As we descended to the south the temperatures were more pleasant and in St. Augustine, a coastal town in Florida, we began to walk with short sleeves. We liked St. Augustine, a former Spanish town, with an imposing fortress, which reminded me slightly of the tourist towns of the Costa Brava, with a main street full of small shops. But much more we were impressed by Kennedy Space Center we visited the next two days. The entrance was very expensive, $ 50 per person, but really worth it, with several IMAX 3D movies, museums, performances of several space programs, excursions to the launch pads, chats with astronauts, ... Those days there was a presentation of Mark Lee, an astronaut who had traveled 4 times in the shuttle craft, and asked if he would join an expedition without a return to Mars, as suggested by some scientists, but said he was not quite convinced if he preferred history to his grandchildren. Finally, after those intense two days, I realized there are many other space missions, and I ended up surprised that over 500 people from 38 nationalities have already flown in space since 1957 and have launched more than 6500 satellites in orbit around the earth.
From Boston to NY (see on map)
We left Boston under heavy rain, being prevented from visiting the US Constitution and made us park near the village of Chatham, on Cape Cod, until the next day at midmorning, when the rain began to slacken. Taking advantage of a few minutes without water, we visited the port and the dune beach of Chatham, and immediately started making way into the village of Little Compton, which we liked more. The next day we visited without haste, walking through the rocks where the waves snapped a raging sea and visiting the small roads in the region that snaked through the side of beautiful wooden houses surrounded by stacked stone. Even more interesting was the following day, when we visited some of the fabulous mansions of Newport, a town that began to prosper thanks to the slave trade and the existence of various pirate considered honorary citizens. Anyway, the real growth started in mid-eighteenth century from the arrival of several families of Jewish merchants from Portugal, where they practiced their religion in secret the last 3 centuries. And more prosperous when the early nineteenth century several wealthy families of the Southern plantation began to build splendid mansions around Bellevue Avenue, an activity that continued over a century, attracting the wealthiest families across the country. Today, many of these mansions are still private, but there are some that have been turned into museums and are open to the public, although the high price of entry only allowed us to visit the outside.
The last day before entering New York, we stopped in the city of New Haven, in the center of which lies the famous Yale University, which impressed me much more than Harvard in Cambridge. Just in time, we went directly to the visitor┤s center to join the free guided tour of the university. Before, all the participants visualized a fun 20-minute video that Yale had a way so attractive that I felt like going back to college and study. Then a girl student and guide, took us to the university, which surprised by its gothic buildings of the early twentieth century attempted to mimic the architecture of the ancient English universities. As explained the guide, some Englishmen compared this architecture with Disneyland, but I liked it, because i still had withdrawal symptoms for historic buildings. Anyway, although I liked more Yale than Harvard, Yale does not have as good statistics as the University of Cambridge and only has 49 Nobel Prize winners affiliated with the university and has only produced 5 U.S. presidents.