Goodbyes and Hellos
Trip Start Feb 15, 2010
77Trip End Feb 14, 2011
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We hopped off at the station where we would switch to a bus line and decided to get some lunch. After a quick search on my phone to see what was in the area, we decided to try out the Cuban cafe, Rincon Criollo. Neither of us had ever tried Cuban cuisine and I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, it is very similar to the foods of most other central american countries, but the food we got was very good. A few tamales, black beans and rice, and shredded beef fried with onions. Plus, it's always a good sign when people from the culture of the advertised fare frequent the restaurant.
Following lunch, we hopped on our bus to the airport and sat together while we waited for my mom's flight time
After her departure, I made my way back to the hotel and hopped into my "mobile home" to figure out what to do next. I had arranged tours at NYU for the following day and needed to decide whether to stay parked somewhere near this hotel, or try to find a spot in the middle of Manhattan for the night. I decided to roll the dice and headed into the jungle. I've gotta say; though, driving in Manhattan was really not bad at all. I had expected much worse, but even the traffic of New York City is dwarfed when compared to the unimaginable automotive mess of cities like Beijing and Cairo.
I found a spot right next to Washington Square, and I also managed to amaze the heck out of myself with my parallel parking skills. I had probably less than six inches in front of and behind me, but I faced the problem of having to either find a better spot later on or move my car
before 7am the next morning because of street cleaning schedules. Fortuitously, at just that moment, opportunity rang. A friend of mine who lived in New York was calling.
I had met my friend, Anna, in Beijing when we performed opposite each other in Guys & Dolls.
Myself as Nathan Detroit and her as Adelaide. She had since worked on producing a few shows in Beijing and moved to New York to pursue a career in theatre production. After chatting for a little while, Anna informed me that I was welcome to park my abode in front of her house in Brooklyn, and I happily accepted.
Once I had figured out how to get back out of the parking spot I had fit myself into, I drove back
out of Manhattan and over the river to Brooklyn. It would seem that Anna's house is located in a neighborhood with a high population of Jewish people. I had never seen so many Jews in my life, and I have to admit it was a bit of a surprise simply due to the unexpectedness of encountering so many of them and their unique style of dress: black cloaks, hats, beards, and earlocks. I would have liked to take a few photos, but I didn't want to be intrusive. One photo I really would have loved was two elderly-looking jewish men that seemed to be lecturing an inattentive young black boy. I've always been a fan of juxtaposition and it reminded me of another missed photo-op I had seen in South Africa. Basically reversing the scene I saw in New York, I saw a jewish man, in much the same style of dress, that was coming out of a shopping mall in Pretoria, South Africa, and drawing the stares of every African in sight. He was the only jewish man I ever saw in Africa, and the way he seemed so out of place and drew so much attention was really interesting to me. Oh well...twice I've missed out on a photo of a really unique cultural blend.
Once at Anna's, I followed her as she drove to return a friend's pickup truck, and then brought her back to her house where I was given a tour. She currently shares the house with six other people, and they all frequently partake in the sport? of dumpster-diving. Almost every time one of the residents returned they had brought with them some treasure they had discovered in the dumpsters behind a store or market. The really shocking thing was that most of what they were bringing back was in perfect condition. Boomboxes with CD players, picture frames, and
numerous other items that someone else had proclaimed as trash. They also knew the habits of a few local grocery stores and frequently stocked their pantry with items that weren't quite expired yet. Their pantry was filled with essentially every spice and substance that you would find in your own cupboards, but theirs was free. Some of the items baffled me...dried spices, unopened bottles of worcestershire, and vinegar. You name it...they had probably managed to find it somewhere.
After sitting around and catching up on the past three years of each other's lives, Anna and I headed into the city. We stopped at a Greek restaurant for a bite to eat and then went to a small basement bar she knew of. The establishment was called Marie's Crisis, and it was a piano bar. Each night, one of three piano players comes in and plays showtunes from various Broadway shows throughout the years. They take requests or play whatever they like, but the unique thing was the clientele. Made up almost entirely of local theatre students, actors, or Broadway buffs, they all seemed to know each other, and the majority were able to sing along with whatever random song out of thousands the pianist chose to play. It was a cool little place to visit, but despite our passions for theatre, Anna and I soon discovered we were poorly lacking in our knowledge of lesser-known tunes.
Upon returning to her house, we said goodbye for the night, and I climbed back into my habitat for the night.