Wry Exchange


New York Highlights
04-04-09, 1:13 am
Filed under: Exchange Students

  It’s been a bumpy week.  Let’s start with a post about the bus trip to New York City.   Students and chaperones fanned out all through the city.  We had one chaperone for every three students or so,  it was wonderful to have such small groups.

A few of the groups stopped at a firehouse near Ground Zero.  The firefighters spent time explaining September 11, 1991 to the students.   They made a big impact on the students and chaperones.

I feel weird writing about all the other parts of the day after that.   We had 14 hours to show the kids as much of New York as possible.  We all started in Battery Park.  At least one group rode the Staten Island Ferry to get a close-up view of the Statue of Liberty without standing in the long lines and going through security.

My little group spent over five hours walking through the Financial area, Ground Zero, TriBeCa, Little Italy, and Chinatown.  We never made it above 46th street all day.

 Their jaws dropped as they saw their first gay and lesbian couples walking down the street.  The didn’t comment, or stare.    They b0ught street t-shirts, I got a new Kipling bag at Empire Luggage, just tourist stuff.    Husband stopped at Yellow Rat Bastard to stock up on t-shirts for him and our boys.

One of the chaperones wanted a faux Coach purse, but they were difficult to find in Chinatown this year.  We noticed some of the sidewalk people  had flipcharts with different purses.  I asked a woman about Coach.  She told me her store is around the corner.   We go around the corner up a block, over a block, and up a block.  Her short little legs walked fast.  We just followed wondering how far, then she pointed to a dusty windowed building.   We were buzzed in, and the door locked behind us.  We tried to tell 2 of the students to stay outside ‘just in case’ we don’t return, but curiosity overcame safety.   The store was small, dingy, and dark.  We glanced around, and prepared to leave.   Then part of the wall opened up, and a woman beckonedus to follow her.  We walked down a hallway, made a few turns and were in a room filled with purses hung on slatwall.  We were in the Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, wallet, and wristlet room.  Other tourists came in behind us, and were taken downstairs.  Husband said that’s where they take tourists who don’t come back.   They had a great selection, and were nice quality.   I had read that the purses were in back rooms now, but I didn’t think it was like this.   Someone else told me they entered one building, exited it, crossed an alley, and entered a different building.   I heard one of the girls on the bus bought 5 faux bags in Chinatown.

We took the subway to Herald Square, the kids loved Macy’s.   We let them explore on their own inside.  They got lost, but each bought stuff.  We walked over to the Empire State Building.  Husband graciously volunteered to stay behind to hold everyone’s bags and backpacks.  Oh, look, a brewpub in a corner of the building.  How convenient.   He made the best decision.  We went in, and waited in a snaking line, then we waited in a hallway, then another room, it was almost an hour before we went through security and paid.  Then we started the line process again.   Paramedics were treating a women, they had her clothing loosened, and most of her shirt off except for a camisole.  They put cold compresses on her.  It was so hot in there, we were in tight lines without ventilation.  My cotton sweater was soaked, as was my hair.  I felt faint.   FINALLY, it’s our turn for the elevator.  We go up 80 floors.   We get out, turn a corner, and there are the amusement park lines again.   People are melting, I think my deodorant died,  little children in strollers are just bawling.   A few security guards come over to tell us only one elevator is working between the 80th and 86th floors.   The  crowd wilts, and is pissed.  They don’t mention this until we’ve been stuck here for 90 minutes.   Then they open a section of rope.  If anyone wants to walk up 6 flights of stairs,  there is the staircase.  We take one look at each other, and shove the kids through the rope, telling them ‘GO.’  Nothing could be worse than standing there breathing used, humid air.   The kids ran up all 6 flights, we walked up 2, huffed, then 2 more, then 1, then the last one.  The steps were small, it was just a maintenance staircase-tight and steep.  It was getting dark by the time we got up to the 86th floor.  We had to stand in line to walk down the 6 flights, down wasn’t nearly as bad.  By the time we got out of the building, I was done walking.  I haven’t felt that weak in ages.  

I was waiting on the sidewalk waiting for Husband with the bags, and the rest of the group while looking for an open cab.  A long limo pulled up, and asked where I wanted to go.   I gave him an address about 12 blocks away.  He said $200.00 I laughed.  He said $20 per person, I still laughed.  $10.00 per person.  I turned and started hailing a cab.  He went to $5.00 per person.  I pretended to think about it.  He said “Come on, make the kids happy.”  Tired, bitchy me replied “I don’t care if the kids are happy.”   Meanwhile, Husband was opening the door and trying to shoo the kids in.  They were so excited.   Husband said the one boy was having a ‘limogasm.’   They were soooo happy, and took photos of everything inside.  I was just happy to sit.   The driver was very nice, he and Husband talked for a while.  He said business was really slow, and he knew we would’t pay very much, but at least he got something.

Our destination was a fabulous restaurant.  We voted to skip a Broadway show in favor of a memorable meal.   We asked the kids for $10-15.00 each, and told them they could order anything they wanted.   It was Brasilian food that most of them never had or heard of before.    $400.00 later, everyone was fat and happy. 

A quick walk through Times Square for Hard Rock t-shirts, and back on the bus.   The kids all chattered for about 15 minutes, then slept hard.   Lots of groups went shopping on 5th Avenue, 57th street, explored Central Park, Rockefeller Center, SoHo, Greenwich Village, and more.

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