In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, or Sarah Jessica Parker as her character in the megahit series Sex in the City – this is coming completely from my subconscious, unbeknownst to me – “New York is fabulous!” Never thought I’d utter those words… and actually mean them. I bet my father is so proud of me right about now, jajaja! But in all seriousness now, okay maybe not exactly complete seriousness, of all the cities we visited during our summer road trip, which you know ended just a couple of days ago, New York was the most impressive and beautiful for me.
From the moment we walked off the local bus we’d taken from New Jersey to New York ($2.50 per person for the 20 minute ride) and walked directly onto Times Square from our bus terminal, the pace of life was completely different from what we are used to. I know what y’all are thinking, those Pace picante sauce commercials where the cowboys are sitting around a camp fire saying “he must be from New York City!” with a Texas twang of course, but I promise it wasn’t all like that. Immediately our eyes were drawn upwards toward all the shiny lights and digital billboards on the streets, people were zooming by and around us in every direction, a lot of them looking annoyed by us as we just stood there for a couple of seconds, trying to take in all of our surroundings, like an infant trying to adjust to new legs. Everything we’d heard and seen about the Big Apple was now before us and we didn’t know what to do first.
As opposed to New Orleans, Nashville, Birmingham, and Texas, where we knew we could navigate at our own pace in our own vehicle, exploring only what we wanted to, in New York we were just like three little worker ants moving along with the pack, and at one point getting yelled at by a female New Yorker for “not going at the right pace.” Normally that would have made us mad and we would have had something smart to say to her, but in our quest to experience the “real” New York City it just made us giggle, and we were actually grateful for her attitude, that and she zoomed by so fast we were barely able to look at her backside for a half second before she got lost in the crowd again. After being yelled at, we decided it was time to get a cab, which in it of itself was a whole other experience.
We picked up our pace, clutching Edgar by the hand and literally dragging him along at moments, walking as fast as we could, like we were power walking or something just one notch away from jogging, and proceeded to try to flag down a cab from the sea of yellow vehicles on the streets. It felt silly for me at first to stretch out my arm and just leave it there in the air, waving my hand at times, trying to get taxi cabdrivers’ attention, but that seemed the norm here and it looked like that was the only way we were going to be able to “catch” a cab. This was one of the most fun parts of our visit to the city for me – I think Anjelica liked Chinatown the best. In Texas we just call a taxi and tell them where to pick us up. Finally, after several failed attempts, we managed to corner an empty cabbie at a red light and jumped in before he changed his mind in a “New York minute,” I just had to throw that in, was dying to use it. He drove us to Chinatown, overcharged us, and took off with another group of dazed looking tourists.
In Chinatown I wasn’t very good at making friends. If you know me you know I am very cheap, all of the time, and apparently in Chinatown only certain vendors are willing to partake in haggling. A 40-ish Asian lady in one of the shops made that perfectly clear to me after I offered her $3 for the watch she was selling me for $5. “I cannot believe you say that! Three dollars for a five dollar watch, that’s insulting…” Even as we were walking down the street we could still hear her telling us off. We kept shopping and eventually found another vendor who was willing to take $3 for the same watch. In the meantime though, the Italian gelato vendor charged us $6 a pop for two tiny cups of frozen gelato (a rip off I’m sure), which I guess in the end balanced everything out. We stopped shopping and left Chinatown on another cab to Central Park before we kept spending money like crazy. The park was nice and we sat there listening to live music for a couple of minutes before heading back to Times Square by foot to see all of the lights and action at night.
Our friends the Naked Cowboy and Cowgirl were there, along with a couple hundred other people who were all there for the same reason as us, to experience Times Square after dark. We were mesmerized and just walked and walked around until we literally couldn’t take it anymore. At Walgreens we paid $25 for a banana, a Monster, a bottle of water and a pack of my cigarettes, before heading back to the bus station. I wasn’t leaving without trying out the food from the street vendors so greedily ordered an Italian sausage hot dog with the works and a barbecued chicken skewer sandwich for myself. There wasn’t anywhere to sit. I just stood there in the middle of the street devouring my Italian sausage dog first, then my chicken skewer sandwich, then Edgar’s, with mustard and sauerkraut running through my fingers, soaked into the three napkins the vendor had given me.
They were delicious. I was satisfied. And we were all ready to head back to the hotel in New Jersey to crash out for the night. Yes, New York City was fabulous!
Juan, I LOVE this post. So funny to see NY through the eyes of a Texan. You should move there for a year and just blog about your adventures.
Oh – and I wasn’t thinking about the Pace commercial while reading it – I was thinking about the movie, “Cowboy Way” – ROFL. If you haven’t seen it, you must.
As for bartering in Chinatown – ROFL. That reminded me of this clip from comedian Russell Peters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg-fiNGkKsw
I want pictures of the street food! I’m hungry just imagining it.
Ay Juan que divertido!!! I love love loooove NYC! I lived there (well, upstate, but got myself to the city every weekend) for a couple of years and then went back for my honey moon. Yup! Honey moon in NY! The best ever.
Que risa con tus experiencias! I can picture you enjoying every minute of it, and that is definitely the right attitude for being in such a hectic city.
I second Tracy´s motion to have you move up there for a year and just blog about it! It would be hilarious!
I´m so happy you had such a great time throughout your road trip. Ya quiero leer mas! Un abrazote Compa y bienvenido back!
Gracias hermanas y amigas! Honestly, I didn’t realize how different I would see things from the eyes of a Texas-bred and raised mexicano. It was definitely a small culture shock for me and an eyeopener tambien. Despite the lady yelling at us though, I’ve gotta say New Yorkers seemed pretty friendly to me. No where near the horror stories I’d heard about in books and TV, LOL! Quiero regresar pronto 🙂
I love it!!! I felt like i was right there with you and took me back to my very first experience of la gran manzana!!!
Your post is fabulous! I’ve never been to NY, but you took me in with your post. I can totally relate to the walking…we drive everywhere in LA. I think I would also struggle with the hand gesture to flag down a cabbie.
Juan, me da mucho gusto que disfrutastes tu visita a NYC. En realidad es un lugar muy interesante. Aunque yo vivo en New Jersey vengo a la cuidad todos los dias a trabajar. Me causo risa que te gritaron por no obedecer las reglas de las aceras. Turistas no saven que hay reglas de comportamiento en las aceras. De ves en cuando me encuentro con turistas que me bloquean la pasada cuando voy en apuro al trabajo. Oh, creo que te hospedastes cerca de donde yo vivo. Lastima que no supe cuando estuvistes por aca.
Sounds like you had a lot of fun. Welcome back!