I imagine this will be my last blog entry. Am going home on Monday. What a shame, just getting really involved in the scene. Was given an extended spot at Path Cafe on Thursday night, then went on a pub crawl with some of the guys. Still managed to get up early next day and get a bus to Woodstock which is a two and a half hour journey away in the Catskill Mountains. Beautiful! Clean air, rippling brooks, lovely green grass and trees that go on for ever (forest I think it’s called). Woodstock is quite small but maintains the hippy ideals of the 60s. The main part is quite commercial but once you step out there are some amazing houses and a real community feel. Everything is low key. Made me feel quite nostalgic, my hippy days were perhaps the only time I really felt free. Where did it all go? Like all good tourists I bought a couple of overpriced teeshirts and came back. The contrast between the country and the city was quite stark as I came over the New Jersey Turnpike. It’s like two alien worlds. At least now I’ve got some clean clothes to wear!
Myth Buster #1: Only the poor and destitute use the buses. Wrong! Lots of perfecly normal people use the buses. They are clean, comfortable and efficient and apart from cars they are the only way to get to places like Woodstock.
Myth Buster #2: Americas observe the traffic signals when they cross the road. No! They cross whenever they feel like it, even when something is coming. And no, you don’t get arrested, a police car narrowly missed me one day when I was jaywalking. All I got was a dirty look!
One thing I’ve noticed about New York are the number of homeless people begging. They often have long tale to tell before they ask you for money. I feel guilty if I don’t give them anything but as soon as I dip my hand in my pocket it’s never enough. Curse my liberal sensibilities. One guy outside Paddy Reilly’s on 3rd Avenue spent ages talking about how he needed money for a homeless hostel. He was a nice guy so I gave him some money. Then he told me he hadn’t always been a bum. He had a daughter and he showed me a picture of her. On his BLACKBERRY! Then he told me how difficult it was to get it charged (the Blackberry that is). I just fell about laughing. It appealed to my sense of the absurd. Don’t think he understood what I found funny.
The other thing is cigarette smoking. Like in the UK you can’t smoke in bars etc. When I go out for a smoke I can guarantee at least three people passing by will ask me for a cigarette. Not bums but normal people. Even a financial sector worker on one occasion. It comes down, I think, to the cost of cigarettes. They are prohibitively expensive here, up to $12 a pack. People literally can’t afford them, but they still want to smoke. Bizarrely, if you go to North Carolina they cost $3 a pack. It’s a tobacco state so they encourage smoking there. I’m glad I got mine from the duty free.
See you on Tuesday!