Day 1 New York
Oh what fun to be had on arrivals at JFK and a computer malfunction means waiting in line for 45 minutes to do the digital finger and thumb ‘print’ thing. On exiting the airport the heatwave hit me like the gas firing in an oven. Negotiating the Air Train and the Subway to my pre-booked hostel was fun, excited to be off the plane and on the way into the city. On exiting in Queens and tramping the two blocks to my hostel I learn that they had, the day before, been visited by the City Fire Department and told to close all of their dormitories due to overcrowding the tiny rooms with too many beds. The e-mails they apparently sent out to customers never reached me. I resembled a human waterfall by this time and splashed into one of the lobby sofas while the receptionist telephoned other hostels for me. Only space available in Manhatten Upper West side, On Broadway. OK – a little more expensive, but by this time I would have paid $100 to stay on the sofa I was floating in. The receptionist was kind enough to give me a small stack of MetroCards which he had found lying about the place and said, ‘Hope one of them works for you’. After digesting the directions to West 103rd Street I re-entered the subway – backpack and camera bags feeling like they were filled with concrete.
The Broadway Hostel, who were informed I was on my way, decided to ignore the instruction and book my place 5 minutes before arriving. New York was becoming a pain in the arse. I was lucky to be one block away from the Hostel International place which was filled with what looked like twelve year olds from France. They had a bed though and I gratefully asked to be booked in – an 8 bed dorm. On presenting my card for swiping it was declined. My stupid bank not content with contributing to a national recession had decided to add some personal touches by ignoring my instructions to allow my cards to be used abroad. The time in New York was now 10pm. My body time was 3am next day and of course the bank wasn’t going to answer the phone and put my cards right. I had cash to pay for the booking which left me with $1.75 in my pocket: just enough for a cream cheese bagel! Except I forgot the taxes and it came to $1.90! The nice man – spying what must have by now been a crazed look in my eyes and sensing that I was about to spontaneously combust from heat, fatigue and hunger, let me off the tax. On finding my room one of the occupants was the possible opposite of a twelve year old French boy: a fifty year old Aussie man! Very welcoming and full of information about the hostel. I gratefully climbed into my bunk and began to drift off to sleep. While sirens floated through the night air on Amsterdam Avenue, I began to feel it was going to be alright. Just as I slipped into deep sleep, someone below me farted.