"New York, New York! So good they named it twice..."
Well, that’s the easy bit done! Continental Airlines delivered us safely to Newark pretty much right on schedule (thanks dad, by the way, for the lift to the airport this morning through rush hour traffic… I hope you agree that the half eaten Jamaican Ginger Cake more than repays the favour!).
All we need to do now is negotiate our way across the 3,000 or so miles across the US to LA over the coming weeks. Piece of piss. But before we do that we want to experience all that NYC has to offer. They say that it is the city that never sleeps. Really? I'm not so sure... within half an hour of arriving at our hotel, both Rachel (or should I say Thelma) and I were fast asleep. So that's one myth busted already!
To be honest, I don't think this is a reflection on the Big Apple itself. Neither of us had slept on the flight as we watched the in-flight movie (Bewitched) and chatted to a Professor of Law in the seat next to us about the economic analysis of law and the concept of 'karma' (as you do...). So we were both in need of a nap.
On landing at Newark Liberty, we passed through Immigration without a hitch. We almost got caught out by those sneaky questions on the green Visa waiver we had filled out on the plane. But fortunately we were able to answer these honestly and say that we were not seeking entry to the United States to engage in criminal or immoral activities, that were had never been involved in espionage, sabotage or genocide, and that between 1933 and 1945 we had not been involved, in any way, in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies. (I wonder how many spies or Nazi sympathizers they catch with those?)
Our cab driver who brought us into Manhattan was Hassan. Rachel discovered that he was originally from Egypt. I say "discovered" as though she pieced together a number of subtle clues in much the same way Inspector Morse might have done, whereas her direct questioning ("where are you from?") was probably more in the style of Sergeant Lewis. Hassan proceeded to tell us that he now lived in New Jersey, having moved to the USA from Cairo 27 years ago. In fact, Rachel and Hassan struck up quite a conversation as Rachel explained she had visited Cairo some years before, and I was impressed to learn that she also knew one word of Arabic... "Enchala" (no doubt spelled wrong...). It means "God willing". I liked that. And the more Hassan turned to face Rachel in the back of the car as he veered from one lane to another the more I could hear the word going round in my head. But he did get us to our hotel, the Hotel QT on West 45th Street, in one piece so he earned his tip (which we had to pay in dollars as we had given away our last piece of Jamaican Ginger Cake that morning).
So, as I say, that's the easy bit done. Now the fun really starts...