So like I said, arrived in New York City Friday around 6:30am. Was EXPECTING to emerge in a terminal with, you know, a currency exchange, coffee shops, maybe an internet cafe, you know, like when you arrive in any OTHER country in the world. No it splurted me out in a dingy underground parking garage filled with taxi drivers with signs. Not even COFFEE. This is the welcome most travelers get to America? By this point in my trip in Egypt, Egypt would have seemed more on top of things.
Took the airport rail shuttle to the connection with the city subways and finally got my coffee. You see, in the middle east, yes they have the infamous strong "Turkish Coffee" made from putting ground beans directly in a cup, but they don't have BREWED coffee anywhere. If they don't want to make turkish coffee they instead make "nescafe" instant coffee (ALWAYS nescafe). If you order coffee somewhere without specifying turkish, congratulations you just paid two bucks for shitty instant coffee. (Always order tea)
Subway to downtown and then wandered around completely aimlessly. Didn't even know what direction I was going. Found that internet cafe checked what was going on in the world. Then went to a good ole diner and had some corned beef hash (was craving biscuits and gravy (Specifically inspired by comments about it in the LJ Idol green room, true story!) but they didn't have it on their menu!). Wandered around aimlessly some more. Good thing my luggage is only 10 kilos and fits comfortably on my back.
Went into an AT&T store and they were good enough to let me charge my phone there. Lingered there for twenty minutes while it charged, read all the informational brochures on their cell phone plans ... still don't understand them. I swear you need to hire a lawyer to figure out which cell phone plan is best.
Back to wandering. Found myself unexpectedly in Times Square for the first time. Laughed at the WEAK attempts of flyer-giver-out-ers to solicit me. Psh y'all got nothin on the entrepreneurial spirit of the middle east.
Was about to shave in a starbucks rest room like the vagrant I looked like when my friend Paul called me about hanging out. Turns out he lives only two blocks from where I happened to be so I was spared from these particular act of vagrancy and shaved at his place (due to an inconveniently timed black out, followed by a blown fuse, I hadn't gotten to shave in Cairo)
After hanging out with Paul for a bit (14:30 to 16:00) I met up with my longtime lj friend memeworrywort. We went and got cheap NY pizza and then he helped me navigate to where I was meeting Kerri, at a bar near where she works on Wall Street.
Bar was quite pleasant. Had this "Six Points Ale" or some such which was quite good. She showed up and we went back to her place in Brooklyn. That night we hit the local bars until they closed around 4am. This was probably approximately 24 hours after I had woken up.
I wake up and Kerri's already out in the livingroom. I wonder why she's up so early and go out there. Turns out its 3pm!!! O: So much for doing anything today.
We get on the subway to go to a museum but once we're on it we find out the line is down for repairs and is being rerouted through busses after a certain point -- we'll never get to our destination before it closes now. So instead we wander around by the Brooklyn end of the Brooklyn Bridge. Was going to get some pizza reputed to be the best in New York but the line was ridiculous. Had some other pizza instead.
Returned to HQ. Drank calimochos (in the spirit of our trip to Spain last May) and watched episodes of Arrested Development on her computer while we waited for it to be late enough to go out.
Went out to bars in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, which I'm told is the epicenter of the "hipster" population. Kerri pointed out some prime examples for me. Being a Good Friend, Kerri vowed we'd drink enough to make up for the relatively small amount of drinking I had on the rest of my trip. It was a valiant effort that involved many glasses of whiskey and shots of rum .. until the bar ran out of rum and we moved to shots of vodka. I'm assuming we left when the bars closed at four but for all I know we didn't make it that long. All I remember was a very very drunken journey home.
I woke up feeling alright (I'm unhangover-able!) but Kerri felt totally shitty. We ended up just sitting around watching most of the rest of the three seasons of Arrested Development all day (why did they cancel this show??). I think this was the first day in at least three weeks I hadn't beenon my feet all day walking around some foreign city or some such, so it was a nice change of pace.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'm going to take the amtrak down to Philadelphia to visit my good friend Garian and her husband. Last time I saw them we were passing through Eugene, Oregon on Epic Roadtrip 2008 and they put us all up on their couches.
Wednesday I'm going to rent a car from there and drive a few hours west to visit an LJ friend who lives in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia and keeps bees and distills. These are both hobbies of mine of course so I'm looking forward to seeing his system.
I have another friend in that general direction (North Caronlina) who I might go see after that (Thursday), or I might return to NYC. Flying out of NYC on Sunday.
Something Might be Terribly Wrong With My Head
Warning: people writing about their health problems is a notoriously boring subject of livejournaling. I'm going to write this in hopes maybe someone has some insights as to what's wrong with my ear, but you've been warned. (:
My right ear hasn't popped since more than two weeks ago. As in it feels like its full of water or something.
I've had a stuffy nose / congestion for most of that time so I wasn't terribly concerned, but now my nose has been totally clear for a few days and the problem totally persists -- leading me to upgrade my level of concern from "not concerned" to "very concerned."
It all started when we came down from a major elevation change coming back via bus from Petra, Jordan. I'd been fine the first over and down from this hill earlier in the day and going up it but coming down this last time my ears painfully failed to pop. This had never happened to me and I found it quite alarming. It really was rather painful for an hour or two. Also, at this time I think I already had the congestion so that was the obvious suspect.
It would have been about a week later that we went scuba diving. I think I'd had the stuffy ears the whole time but wasn't concerned as my nose was pretty stuffed up too. I was concerned about going scuba diving as being able to equalize the pressure in your ears every 10 meters or so is critically important, and was very careful the first time I went down. But I DIDN'T have any trouble pressurizing my ears (which leads me think its not that the inner ear air cavity is filled with snot but that the ear itself is fucked up). We went down to 40 meters btw, which is 5x the pressure on the surface.
When I came up every time though I had a really bloody nose. I figured if this was unusual though someone would tell me but no one said anything. I find out later that apparently they asked MARK if this was "normal." He said it was, by which he meant its normal to have a bloody nose in a dry environment like the desert. _I_ think they KNOW about their fucking environment and were asking about ME, and I have ZERO history of ever having bloody noses. So if this bleeding nose thing was an important sign I'm blaming Mark (:
And after several more days of a runny nose now perpetually bloody as well, eventually my nose cleared up but my ear still feels like its completely full of something. d:
And Here's a Camel
On the nighttime trek up Mt Sinai, because I don't feel like uploading more pictures just now. :*