The Trip & Day One: The Flights The Phone Chase & The Forever Heavy Rain

With so much to prepare I ended up only having time to pack
on the last moment, Sunday, and everything seem in control, after all how long
could I possibly take to choose a few clothes etc and pack, so I went to a nice
bay run in the morning, and only started to pack in the afternoon, and between
phone calls, etc, 3am I was exhausted and still packing… since I was nearly
done, I tried to take a 2hours nap, to wake up 5am and be ready for the shuttle
pick up at 7am. Well, the nap plan didn’t work out, my head was simply too full
of excitement to sleep, so about 4am I gave up and I went back to finish
packing and get ready to go.

8th of August 2011: By 7am I was beginning to feel the lack of sleep, but had to
time to think about it, because the phone rang and the shuttle was downstairs
already waiting for me and I was still finishing the last adjustments.

Somehow everything started amazingly perfect!

Peter, the driver, was very nice, great to talk with, very
enthusiastic and positive, really the kind of person that doesn’t matter how
sleepy we can be, we just feel like talking with him. And for my luck, I was
the only one leaving from my neighbourhood to the airport at the time, so he
didn’t have to stop to pick up anyone else on the way, and it was like having a
private shuttle, very nice, great start!

Then at the airport everything was perfect too, the airline
attendant was lovely, I could choose my favourite: window seat :)
and on top of that he said that the flight wasn’t full so he wouldn’t put
anyone on the seat next to me to give me more room, how perfect is that?!

I got to say bye again on the phone to a few friends before
leaving while still at the airport, but somehow couldn’t get hold of Raquel, my
best friend/soul sister, called many of times and nothing, it was really
frustrating because I really wanted to listen to her voice before going away
because we probably wouldn’t be able to speak for a while with all the
international phone rates. Then, on the last minute, when everybody was already
boarding, I finally got hold of her, but then she was really upset about
something that happened earlier in the morning, and I was listening to her, but
then they started to call out the last people to get in the plane, and I was
the last one before they close, and I had to tell her I had to go, and it felt
awful. I couldn’t stop thinking about her during the flight.

Seating on the aisle seat after the nice empty seat, was
Camille, a really cool girl, and we started talking and she was a great company
to spend about 14hours flying, and it also felt very lucky to have someone very
nice seating close to me. She was going to Detroit, and only had 30 minutes to
connect between flights, I told her she would make it, and I’m pretty sure she
did. She was one of the first ones to leave the airplane when we landed in LA,
and she was right at the front at the customs/immigration line, and they were
moving efficiently fast and had very nice staff making sure the people
connecting flights had the right directions.


taking photos while waiting 9 hours at the LAX Los Angeles International Airport

LAX Los Angeles International Airport



I had to pick up my luggage in LA to check in again for the
NY flight. And surprise surprise: the series of perfect events started to be
not so perfect…

My suitcase had a very big hole in it!

One of the wheels was gone, vanished, and its place was this
huge hole, and the other wheel was about to come out too.

I got a trolley and I asked one of the airline attendant
where I could complain about it, and she showed me where the office was, and I
went there, there was nobody in the counter so I waited, then another guy
arrived and started waiting too, finally a lady came to the counter, and she
went straight to attend the guy first, I was just watching, the other attendant
came with the guy and told her that they were concerned that his luggage – a
wrapped box falling on pieces – couldn’t travel like that. Finally the
attendant came to attend me, and I showed her what they did with my suitcase
and asked how they would replace it, and she said that they don’t cover wheels
or zippers, I showed the big size of the hole from the other side, and told her
it was a brand new suitcase that I only used once, and she just repeated that
they don’t cover wheels or zippers. I had zero sleep on the flight, probably
because of all the excitement, and at this point my head was spinning and my
body feeling weak, and I had no energy to argue over it, so I just left and
went on to the NY check in, so I could get rid of it, and go and find a place
to eat and wait my whole 9hours till the next flight.

Before check in the luggage again I also repacked everything
inside to make sure nothing would fall from the hole in case the lining blow
out. I also asked the attendant to put a “fragile” sticker in it, just to make
sure the thing arrives in NY without further damage.

Then I walked to the big terminal where they have all the
food court, and got some food, and wanted to take a nap in some quite couch,
but didn’t happen, there was no quiet couch, and somehow even in my zombie
state, I managed to keep reading my old book “Success through a positive mental

Thankfully the NY flight was another lucky one, which was a
great surprise, once again the middle seat was empty, and the girl next to it
was very nice too.

I collected all the spare pillows and blankets and wrapped
myself trying to sleep, even the guy seating in front of me passed me his blanket
and pillow when he overheard me talking about trying to make it comfortable to
try to get some sleep, that was sweet. Guess what? Even with all the fluffyness
I could get, I still couldn’t sleep, so strange because I’m usually a great

Arrived in NY on time, at 12:45am.

The guy who passed more blankets from the front, Peter,
asked if I got some sleep, I told him I didn’t. We talked a bit, when I saw the
big cases he was carrying, I asked if he was a musician, if that was music
equipment, but no, he told me he is a masseur, and works in a nice elite spa
club and invited me to go anytime to spend the day in the club as his guest
after I settle down in the city, that was sweet!

After Peter left I started to ask around where the Mcdonalds
was, I remember that it was one of the very few places listed as open 24hours
at the JFK, and I had to find a place to have a coffee and wait until 4:30am to
get the shuttle to arrive at the apartment about 7am to pick up the key with
Alex, Jake’s friend.

I arrived at terminal 2, and everything was closed there,
and everybody was vanishing away. Someone told me that Mcdonalds was on
terminal 4, and that there was a special airport bus that connects between
terminals, upstairs near the carpark. I went all the way there, and it was
closed, the girls finishing to work there told me it was finished for the day,
but that I could walk to terminal 4. I cant believe I did that, but I actually
did, I pushed the trolley with all the luggage till terminal 4, after all I
wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere and had to find some entertainment to kill
time, but there was some parts very dark, and I asked myself “what the hell am
I doing?”, I couldn’t answer myself, I was too tired and hyper at the same time
and I just kept pushing the trolley with my objective in mind: coffee!

When I finally arrived at terminal 4 I was relieved that I
made it!

It was very busy full of people waiting for the new arrivals,
with balloons and all, and my Australian phone had zero reception and I
couldn’t call the shuttle to tell them I was going to be at terminal 4 instead
of 2, but thankfully I asked around to find out where the shuttle stop was
hoping to find someone to talk, and the security guard showed me this phone
area where I could call the shuttle, so I called them, and they told me to call
again 1 hour before the time I wanted to get picked up.

I didn’t see Mcdonalds anywhere, and the only small cafe
open near this arrival area had no place to seat, so I just seated in this
middle area reserved for people who just arrived waiting to get picked up,
while all the people were screaming outsite excited at their friends and family
arriving from Dominican Republic.

The inside area started to get busy, and the security started
to tell people they had to wait for their families outside. I had all my
luggage so was obvious that I was waiting for the shuttle. Then he asked this
guy seating next to me to leave, the guy replied to him in Spanish that he was
with me. Very strange. I didn’t know what to do say or do, so didn’t say anything.
When the security left the guy told me he told the security he was with me just
so he could stay seating in that area, and that he was waiting for his wife. I
felt a bit uncomfortable, but was too tired to move or ask further questions so
I just stayed there.

It felt like forever, but eventually his wife arrived and he
left. It was true. Good.


Bienvenido - Welcome balloon waiting for its family at the JFK

Bienvenido - One of many Welcome balloon waiting for its family at the JFK


Eventually the security guard changed, and I was tired of
seating in the odd open place in what felt like everybody around the fence was
watching me the whole time alone there waiting for god knows what, so I asked
him if there was any other place to eat. I totally should have asked that
earlier. He told me to walk to the end, take the lift, walk to the end again,
and I would find Mcdonalds (I’ve never been this excited about Mcdonalds by the

The fun night at the airport finally started!

Once I started to explore all the big halls of the JFK I
felt like the Tom Hanks character in “The Terminal” movie! Everything upstairs
was empty, and somehow my mind woke up and I had the great idea of start taking
photos! It felt kind of magical to have so much time to explore the whole almost
empty airport, or maybe I was getting delirious…


The Terminal Experience, feeling just like Tom Hanks in "The Terminal" during the very quiet late night hours at the JFK.

The Terminal Experience, feeling just like Tom Hanks in "The Terminal" during the very quiet late night hours at the JFK.


When I finally arrived at Mcdonalds, they only had Mcfish on
the menu! It was a hard choice, so I order the Mcfish…

At 4am I stopped my airport exploring and went back to the
shuttle waiting area and called them to come and pick me up.

The lady driver arrived very quickly, just before 4:30am.

The streets were very quiet, and I started to wish I waited
longer at the JFK, because with all that speed and no traffic, we would arrive
at the Upper West Side too quick.

I really should have stayed longer at the JFK… we arrived
at the apartment address just before 5am!

I told her the 7am story and she left me in the corner
instead like I asked her, and I asked her if the light in the distance up
Columbus Avenue was an open deli (my eyes were too tired at this stage and I
wasn’t trusting them), she said it was, but she couldn’t drive up Columbus, so
I dropped off at the corner, and walked up to the deli dragging my wheelless suitcase.

It was a very small deli and I was simply grateful for
finding a place where I could have a tea (no more coffees at this stage) and
seat and wait.

The 24hours Small deli at Columbus Avenue where I waited in the morning

The 24hours Small deli at Columbus Avenue



I was drinking my tea very slow so it would keep me busy for
longer but that didn’t work because I managed to drop the cup and spill tea
everywhere, so embarrassing, and the attendant was very nice even with my mess.

About 5:30am I thought it was probably a good time to make
some communication and tell Alex I was there already in case he could come

My phone had zero reception, couldn’t sent a text message or

I told the deli attendant the story and asked him if he had
a mobile phone that I could borrow, and I would pay him to let me send a text
message, and he seemed very nice, but he said he had no credit in his phone. He
told me try the pay phone outside. I haven’t used one of those in many years,
and what a great idea! I grabbed my quarters, and walked there really excited
for having found a phone solution… it was dead.

The daylight was already on, and about 6am something finally
happened…  a costumer walked into the
store to buy his coffee, and he was holding a phone… there it was: a phone!
My hope! I walked to him and told him the story and asked if I could send a
text message and would pay for it, and he was very kind and told me to just go
for it! What a nice gentleman.

Thankfully a little after Alex arrived. I didn’t know him,
so I just figured it was him when this guy arrived and said hi, I asked if he
was Alex, and he said yes, and I introduced myself, and we walked to the
apartment address.

He showed me the apartment, I paid him, he gave me the keys
and left.  There was a very nice letter
from Jake telling where everything was, and all the people names and numbers to
call in case of emergency etc, very nice…  and yes! I was there, safe and sound, and
could finally sleep…

Had a shower and thought about sleeping a little bit to get
in better shape before going out to explore my first day back in NY after all
these years… and there I was, Tuesday morning NY time (Tuesday night Sydney
time), last time I slept was from Saturday to Sunday, and after flying for so
long and waiting around for so long, there was finally a bed to sleep… and
the whole New York to explore… who can sleep when we have the whole New York
to explore?

I couldn’t sleep, had to go out and see New York because
somehow I still wasn’t believing that I’ve made it, I was there! I had to see
everything, to feel everything, to breath everything, to listen everything, to
touch everything, to taste everything!

First I walked to one of my old favourite deli at Broadway
and 85th where everybody was always so nice, so I went there to
start the day with a hazelnut flavoured coffee! And just like old times, the
girls at the cashiers were so nice to talk and the coffee was delicious!

While walking exploring every corner my next destination was
to have one of my old favourite burrito at Cafe Europa on 6th Avenue
with 46th, the one near TVI (where I used to study), but when I
finally got there and tried to order a burrito they told me that they don’t make
burritos anymore, just salads and pastas and everything else, but not burritos,
I thought maybe the burritos stopped to make profit 5 years ago after I left
and that’s why they stopped making them… just kidding!

Then I went to the next step which was a very important one:
get a new simcard with a local number, so I went to T-Mobile and signed up for
a prepay number! Yeah! A New York number! Then I started to text all my NY
friends to tell them I was in town! So exciting!

It was raining a bit, but I kept going no matter what,
without an umbrella, after all I just got out from the airplane after flying
forever and had no time to think of umbrellas, and I just continue into the
burrito mission, to New York’s favourite: Chipottle! Yes! Got my big burrito!
Was feeling like a kid eating one of the best burritos in the world again!

Oh god! After the burrito I went to peepee before keep going
on the exploring, and while I was getting into it, these 2 girls walked into
the toilet! What the? Somehow their toilets doors don’t lock properly from the
inside and people can open from the outside! Watch out!

After the burrito the rain started to get heavier, but I kept
going, to make it at least to Macy’s, and after trying on all the latest
fragrance releases at Macy’s and smell super nice, I kept going, even with the
heavy rain, but started to walk back uptown instead.

Somehow the rain just wouldn’t stop and kept getting heavier
and heavier and I was totally drenched, and started to feel really cold, and
with the lack of sleep for so many days I realized I was probably pushing my
body to its extremes, and the exhaustion was finally catching up with me and I
had to stop a bit, so got into a deli to get a nice warm drink to warm me up
again while waiting for the heavy rain to pass.

The attendant at the deli was very kind and without me even
asking he handled me lots of paper towel so I could dry myself. Then I ordered
a coffee, and was standing near the door so I wouldn’t make a mess in the deli
with my dripping clothes, but once again he was very kind and told me to take a
seat, and I told him I was ok, that I would stand there because I was too
drenched to sit in the chairs. He insisted, and I was tired, so I accepted, and
had a seat. The rain was still very heavy, so I started to film it with my
mobile phone to add to the New York film I was planning to make for the Mobile
Screenfest (Mobile Phone Film Competition that was open in Australia at the
time). Once again I got carried away filming and looking at the beauty in it,
and eventually it got lighter and I realized it was my chance to keep on
walking. When I looked at the floor where I was seating, I was very embarrassed,
there was lots of water from my clothes, looked like I pee in my pants or
something, and I asked the guy for more paper towels so I could try do dry it,
and once again he was very kind and told me to don’t worry about it. He was one
of the kindest attendants ever.

I kept walking to the Upper West Side, even drenched and
cold I still wanted to see every corner of New York, and eventually the rain
stopped, and I walked all the way up through Amsterdam Avenue till back home.

Guess what? Eventually it had to happen: 7pm I felt sleep.








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