Thursday, September 24, 2009

Adjust To The Conditions

~ Maybe it was the timing of my trip to New York City, or maybe it’s always like that, but it did seem to rain a lot. In terms of timing, I arrived on March 17, 2008 so while winter may have officially been over, and spring underway, I should have been prepared for the rain and the cold.

I wasn’t. Just the same, I didn’t let it dampen my enthusiasm for exploring the city – I simply adjusted to the conditions and made the most of it.

On one of my explorations of the neighbourhood around Greenpoint, I had noticed a charity shop, and I headed back to it during my first week in the city to see if I could find a warm jacket. For around $20, not only did I find a good jacket, but I also bought a couple of t-shirts, and a polo shirt. I figured I could either take them with me when I left America, or just give them back to the charity shop. In the end, I gave a pile of excess clothing to one of the Hispanic cleaners at the YMCA, and told her she could keep the items, or pass them on to some of the permanent residents who lived at the 'Y'.

I might add that I am one of those people who generally don’t mind the cold – but the wind howling across New York during March was more than even I could bare. So over the next couple of days, I also added a beanie and a warm scarf to my collection of winter warmers.

My third day in New York saw me wandering around in the drizzle until I eventually ended up at the Rockefeller Centre. I could have gone to the top of the building to experience the Top of The Rock, as it’s called, but since the top of the building was in clouds, I figured I wouldn’t see a lot and decided to leave it for another day.

That’s the great thing about staying in one place for an extended period of time. If the weather, or something else conspires to stop you from doing something, you can always leave it for another day. Therefore, my decision to spend at least four weeks in New York City was something I came to appreciate very much. More than once I found myself changing plans at the last minute, simply because my initial attempt to see a well known landmark turned out to be badly timed.

For example, it was five weeks into my New York stay – and on my third attempt – before I went to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The first attempt was disrupted by rain, and the second by long queues of visitors waiting to board the ferries that service these locations. If I had planned to visit New York for the average stay of 5-7 days, I would almost certainly not have had the luxury of waiting for better weather or shorter queues. I would have had to brave the elements or miss out completely.

Some Initial Observations:

Internet Café’s are as rare as hen’s teeth. Not only that, but the one or two that I saw were very expensive compared to London where they seem to be on every street corner, and where you could surf for up to two hours for one pound (around $2.50). In New York it cost US$1.00 for five minutes, although that reduced to about US$10.00/hour if you were on for that length of time.

Public toilets seem to be as rare as hen’s teeth in New York as well. If it wasn’t for the many McDonald’s and Starbucks outlets around the city, I don’t know what I would have done. And not just me. The locals seemed to be just as desperate to use these facilities as I and my fellow travellers were.

Image: Rockefeller Centre, March, 2008

Photographer: Jim Lesses

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