Trip to New York, Day Three

Well yesterday was an interesting day.

It started off calm enough. I did my laundry and then headed to Cafe Nijasol around the corner to get something to eat. Nothing special, but it was a good way to start my day. After saying goodbye to my CouchSurfing host, with the hopes that we’ll hang out again, I headed back into Manhattan.

My first goal of the day was to go back to the library near Times Square, since it was closed on Sunday. What a beautiful building it was. And the reading room was great – huge, painted ceiling and rows and rows of nice wooden tables. Surely a good place to read. But what do people usually read? Books, magazines and newspapers. This library was sorely lacking in all three. I had anticipated that I would be browsing for at least a couple of hours. This was obviously not possible. I kid you not, this gigantic library had a lack of things to read. It is an understatement to say I was disappointed.

From there I walked to the now somewhat famous Apple store near Central Park. The motivation for doing so was because I had left my iPhone charger at home, and this would be a problem now that I wasn’t staying with someone that had an iPhone. But also I figured I would pick that particular Apple store since it was rather unique – it is a glass cube above ground and you walk underground to actually shop. It is also open 24 hours per day. The inside was absolutely ridiculous. Surely it wasn’t very large. But people were packed like sardines in there. I have a couple of pictures which I will post later. Well, I was glad I saw it but it was time to go.

From there I want down to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, where I was told I might be able to find some interesting characters that would fit in with my mission of exploring New York’s activist side. Well, I didn’t find the bicycle messengers that supposedly hung out here, which seemed appropriate considering that they usually hang out in a financial district during the middle of the day. But after sitting for a little bit I noticed a guy in an anarchist shirt. I didn’t actually talk to him, but when another fellow he was hanging out with came over and asked me what someone else had said to me (he was referring to a young lady trying to give me a sushi menu), I followed up by making some inquiries into the activist community. Actually I specifically asked him if he knew of any troublemakers, in a good way, that I could talk to. We talked for a little bit and he gave me a name and a number to call.

I took the name and number and made my way to Manitoba’s, right around the corner from the park. There I engaged in such activities as drinking beer, reading (currently Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto), conversation, watching TV and charging my iPhone. There were two things worth noting here. The first thing, which doesn’t imply a greater importance over the second thing, was that I had something called, I think, Pennant Ale. It was good. Secondly, I asked the bartender a similar question that I had asked the man in the park. And although he said he wasn’t involved in politics, he gave me the same name that the man in the park gave me. I will be calling this mysterious man, maybe try to buy him lunch and pick his brain.

Now it was time to head to Meskerem, an Ethiopian restaurant in Greenwich Village where I met up with a friend and two of her friends. The food was good but the service really brought down the experience for us. We moved next door to MacDougal Street Ale House, an unspectacular bar where we had a good time. Although they did have Magic Hat #9, which remains my favorite beer. Unfortunately it isn’t sold on the west coast.

Here comes the interesting part. I had invited my CouchSurfing host to dinner with us. He had accepted originally and then canceled, saying he was too tired. So far, no problem. I asked him what time I should be to his apartment by, and he told me by 1am would be fine. At 1am I had arrived at his apartment in Harlem. I called twice. I rang the buzzer twice. No answer. I decided not to hang around for too long, especially since I was carrying my crammed bookbag, which made me look out of place. So I headed to Popeye’s where I could sit for a little while to give this guy a chance to call. I was eating chicken that I wasn’t hungry for at 1:30am in Harlem. Meanwhile, I sent a text message to my friend letting her know what is going on. The guy didn’t call and my friend said that I could stay with her CouchSurfing host. So I headed back to Greenwich Village. The bars here are open until 4am. Darts were played.

At probably around 3:30am we get in a cab to head to the host’s place, which is in New Jersey. Evidently there was a misunderstanding on what the cab fare would be, because we were quoted at $85 before we left. So we declined. The cabbie was very nice about it…The two other people we were with offered for us to stay at their place. Very nice of them. After a long subway ride, we arrived at their apartment in Queens. Amazingly, we stayed up until 6am discussing literature. Or, at least they discussed it. I didn’t chime in very much; literature isn’t exactly my strong point. In any case, I slept on a couch that was too small for me, sleeping in the sitting up position that I fell asleep in for a while, before switching to a legs-on-the-arm-rest position. Not the most comfortable sleep but amazingly I awoke today feeling pretty refreshed.

All in all it ended pretty well considering that I got ditched by my host. I am trying to figure out what to do in terms of a bad reference or whatnot. This morning he text messaged me asking me what happened last night, as if couldn’t tell that he slept through my calls and buzzes. I responded telling him that I called and I buzzed, and he seemed to think it was strange that he missed it, claiming to have been awake until 2:30am. But he did confirm that he saw the missed calls on his phone. Anyway, it is annoying, but I am still alive so it is OK!

Here’s to hoping the rest of my trip will be just as interesting as yesterday was, hopefully without the whole being ditched in Harlem at 1am part.

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