My friend Theresa lives in Lower East Side Manhattan with her boyfriend Wayne and their little girl, Celia. They invited us to stay with them and reassured us that not only would it be safe to park on her street, but it was also free. We had no choice regardless, we were stuck with the bike until a crate was built. All we could do was hope the bike would be fine parked in the streets of NYC. When we arrived at Theresa’s I was immediately greeted with a big hug. I consider Theresa my family. She has been a friend of mine since we were teenagers and has always gone out of her way for me. Once again, she was there with open arms, and a delicious dinner was waiting for us when we walked through the door. I immediately felt at home.Rocky and I woke up early the next morning with intentions of building a crate. Our plans fell apart the moment Rocky realized that he didn’t have his original registration papers for the motorcycle. Without that legal document, the motorcycle would not be shipped. We spent hours making phone calls trying to find out our options. We were told that Rocky would have to send a signed letter through FedEx to give his mom permission to pick up an original registration title to the motorcycle. Once receiving Rocky’s letter, his mother would have to present it to the Ministry of Transportation in order to receive a new registration paper. She would then have to send it rush delivery to Iceland Air Cargo. We could only hope that everything would be done in good timing so that the paper work could be processed in time for the motorcycle to clear customs into Iceland. Iceland air Cargo only ships on Saturdays and we already faced the fear that it would arrive a week later than us. We could not afford to take the chance it would arrive even later. After spending most of the afternoon stressed out, Theresa thought it was best if we spent the remaining sunshine at the pool, she was right.Once again, we woke up very early the next morning to try and build the crate. We would have had to wake up early regardless, parking on the street still came at a price that money couldn’t pay. There were so many rules that we are surprised we didn’t get towed for not properly following them. Parking was offered on either side of the road, but not at the same time. We would have to move the motorcycle from one side to the other because there was designated street sweeping hours. The hours were different for each side, we had to move the motorcycle every night after 12am/2am and every morning after 7am/8am to the opposite side. It was free to park on either side, except in the morning until evening, but we didn’t find out the pay part until days later.
Rocky went inside of Home Depot to buy the materials and have an employee cut the wood into specific sizes. I waited outside with the motorcycle trying to find someone to drive the wood to the airport for us. There were many men standing outside, hoping to be picked up for labor work. Many illegal immigrants, unable to legally get a job in America, stood out front of Home Depot with hopes of making a few dollars for offering help with construction/labor jobs. I found a man with a van who accepted my offer of $30, to take the wood for the crate, to the airport. Everything was running much smoother than previous days but we had a lot of work still left to do. We spent all day building the crate and once we were finally done, we felt relieved to no longer have any responsibility to the motorcycle. After taking the Subway back to Theresa’s, it felt great to arrive in time for a delicious meal.The following day, were finally ready and able to tour the Big Apple! Rocky and I joined Theresa and her baby Celia into the city. For many years, Theresa was a model before becoming a mother. Her good friend and former photographer, Jo Lance, came out to meet with us for the day. He is extremely creative and talented. A character difficult to describe with any words other than absolutely fabulous. We walked around all day and evening absorbing the energy of the huge city and each other. After hours upon hours of many kilometers on our feet, we still weren’t done walking but we had to stop for the night.
We woke up feeling a little bit lazy and Theresa recommended that Rocky and I take a walk to her favourite place, a Turkish Bathhouse. We had never been to one before but she convinced us that we’d love it. As soon as we entered the building, we went to a change room where we put on our swimsuits. Once we were back in the main hall, we grabbed a long cloth robe/cloak along with two towels each – one to sit on and the other to wrap around our head. Rocky and I followed Theresa down the steep stairs into a dark cellar. The entire place was crowded. I could barely see faces because I was distracted by so many speedos. All I kept thinking was where the hell am I? But Theresa is notorious for introducing me to interesting situations. We followed her into what I can only describe as a dungeon. It was pitch black and intensely hot.
We entered a small irregular room approximately 15 feet by 10 feet. Long cement blocks were constructed along the walls used for sitting, and a large cement well filled with freezing cold water sat in the center of the room. Just as I felt like I was going to suffocate, Theresa grabbed for a bucket, filled it with water and poured it over each of our heads. We were so hot that steam escaped our bodies. I suddenly understood why everybody was almost nude. I was completely soaked, dripping of sweat and water. The steam in that room was hot enough to slow cook a meal. After a while, we followed Theresa out of the door and she led us to an ice-cold pool. The heat from our bodies immediately escaped as we entered the water that was suitable for a polar bear. We then followed her inside a small room where she pulled a handle and jet streams of warm water shot out at us in every direction. “Ok, are you ready?” I never know what Theresa has in mind when she says things like that. Nonetheless, I trusted her (maybe and I was as ready as I could ever be. I followed her back into the dark steaming dungeon and she hands me over to a tall massive man and tells him “Give it to her really hard!” Being on the road is tough on the body and having a huge Russian man bend, stretch and beat me with a branch was exactly what I needed. It sounds sarcastic but I am being serious. I will gladly visit another bathhouse in my lifetime.
Feeling refreshed the next morning, we were ready once again for the streets of NYC. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and we took a ferry to Long Island so that we could peek at the Statue of Liberty. We also walked around the World Trade Center Memorial and continued walking until we were exhausted. As soon as we returned to Theresa’s apartment, dinner was ready for us. Wayne had spent all day slaving over the oven to feed us a delicious meal. We felt spoiled.
An entire week with Theresa was well-needed, it had been a while since we had seen each other. I was happy to have met Wayne and to have had the opportunity to spend some time getting to know Celia. She is such an intelligent little girl. I think she is absolutely precious. It was a perfect way for me to part with Northern America. We packed our bags the next morning and said our goodbyes before getting into the taxi. We were prepared to take our flight to Iceland and extremely excited to finally get there. Iceland has been on the top of our list of destinations to visit. It was a dream about to come true for the both of us!