The New York Marathon

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(the following text is a "Google-translation" of the original text in Portuguese. It is exactly as it was spilled by the translator, with absolutely no changes. If you want to take the challenge and do a proper translation, I'd be very, very happy.)

"Good morning ... passport, please ... thank you ... what have you been doing in our country? ... How long will you stay? ..."

A new country, a new frontier, the same stress. I though I try to anticipate questions that the customs agent can make me. It is the only way to calm me down. But it is impossible! Knowing that with a simple gesture, he - or she can set my future, I REALISE allow my project or just spray it.

Does not seem fair! How can he know who to keep out? Luck? Chance? Statistics? A look, a gesture, a hand movement, head, body, feet? One answer, a hesitation? Who knows ... Never mind. The most important thing is that once I get past unscathed, unharmed, by one of these "agents of destinations."

It was shortly after noon. It was then March 26, 1999. I could breathe with relief. Finally there I was in London. My trip would start ...

I walked slowly through the endless corridors of Heathrow Airport. After 7 hours of flight time, plus five time zones, I was "dead." Needed to recover his breath, put ideas in order for what was yet to come. The day was not over yet and I have much work ahead. Recalling the four days of shopping in New York, I was obliged to agree that I had the same luck.

 

I left Brazil in the evening of March 21, with a minimum of clothes. So minimal that I forgot my coat. A summer of 40 degrees in Rio de Janeiro I would spend a winter near zero in New York, having only one long-sleeved shirt to protect me. Patience. I needed to be fast. Between 22 and 25 I needed to buy my bike with all essential accessories, a new photographic equipment, some materials for camping, and a sweater.

No, I was not crazy. Even before leaving Brazil I already had everything planned. I had shared my goals in five groups, each with a specific treatment:

I already had chosen, Internet, all material required for camping. The same firm where I bought my first "Basic Kit Backpacker" possessed a "site" complete with all necessary information. My job came down to inspect it, write down names, descriptions, prices and codes. Arriving in New York, I would contact for a phone number free within 48 hours all products would be delivered to the address I wanted.

The "panniers," special backpacks for bikes, I also had met via the Internet. A small Canadian firm offered a different outfit, own bike, but that also could be adapted as a backpack. The order was made, the money sent, and before leaving Brazil, the package was already en route to New York.

The choice of photographic equipment was not yet final. I had consulted magazines, internet sites and reduced my options to two brands, two models for each brand. I already knew all the major photographic equipment stores in New York. I already knew the defects and qualities of each brand and model. All I had to do was visit some stores and equipment in their hands to feel their weight, their grips.

Regarding the bike I would use a different path. I had a list of makes and models that fit what I needed. Arriving in New York, I consult the yellow pages, pick up the phone and address the main store and would call asking about the bikes and their prices. Then it was only to visit those who possess what I wanted and make my decision. The accessories come together, as part of a larger package.

The last group, as could not fail to be "different." In it are included the coat. The exception to this, more urgent, it would be bought "on track", ie from a bike shop and another of photographic material. That is, my real worries were restricted to two groups: photographic and cycling. Little did I know ...

The thing could have ended badly. The photographic equipment, despite the need for numerous visits to the shops, no problems have been closed on the morning of day 24. The camping equipment was commissioned on 22 and 23. Since they did not have any items in the same address, I was forced to make two requests. The second was only reached on the morning of 25 but, even so I lost my night's sleep. These have been shattered by more serious problems.

According to the Canadian firm, my "panniers" were sent through faster and should arrive in New York between 22 and 23. I came to fear that they came before and the hostel did not accept to receive them. Sweet illusion. As soon as I arrived in New York, called the carrier company who assured me the package arrived on time. The 23 days and nothing came of the package. I called again and they were to find out. More in connections and I learned that the package was stopped at customs. Why? No one knew. Have late night and nothing new. So the next morning. I was beginning to get stressed. One more call and I hear that the firm in Canada is being contacted to resolve the problem. But what's the problem? No one knows.

I could not stand waiting. I still had to buy a bike. Between one and another link to the carrier, more phone calls, this time for bike shops. "This bike?". "No.". "Cycling tourism?". "None. Only Custom". "How long?". "A week." I do not have a week! Store after store, all I responded with the same negative, with the same story of the order, with the period of a week. But I had only 3 days! What to do? Do not despair. And go out to the street. Browse.

First store, nothing. Second, the same story. Third, ditto. "Wait! But that bike there?" "What?" "That hung from the ceiling!" "Oh." A bicycle, not exactly as I wanted, but pretty close, rested on the roof of the store, supported by two hooks. The bike is brought. "It is my size?" They say yes. I leave a paper at the store and out into the street, try it. On the way, I keep thinking, reflecting whether or not I should stick with it. I go back to the store. The bike pulls a little to the right. Is it just me? Is the street leaning? It will be a problem on the bike? I do not know. I leave the bike there and continue the search.

One, two, three, four, five stores later, all I could find was another bike, certainly better, but at twice the price. Priceless. I return to the store. I have no option. It's that or nothing. In my ignorance of the subject, never crossed my mind that a bike like this was only sold custom and custom. Patience. Buy the bike along with some accessories, paid, ask them to put everything in a box as best as possible and notice that I will pass the next day, in the middle of the afternoon to get it.

Meanwhile ... Where is my panniers? Still stuck in customs. But why? Now you know. There's something inside the package that is priceless. But what may be? Two bags, one large bag, a padded waist belt and a hat. A baseball cap! The cap is a gift. It is part of a promotion. Purchase of two backpacks, a free hat. That's it. It can only be. And now? Running the risk of running out of my backpack because of a toast. And to think that a few days before leaving Rio de Janeiro I still got in touch with the firm just to remind them of the gift. "You are not forgetting my hat, are you?" "Stay calm. The cap is already inside the package."

Now I knew why. And they. But not help much to know. Now it was all a matter of time. The package, not only would have to be released, but should arrive in New York until the morning of day 25. This gave us less than 24 hours.

I would call non-stop, trying to put pressure to give a direction to the problem. Do not know if it made any difference. Were at least ten calls in a space of 12 hours. The fact is that a little after midnight I was informed that the package had been released and was on his way. Given my despair, they ensured that the package would arrive on time.

Next morning. At 9 am I was at the reception. Some package? Nothing. The problem was serious. I did not have any other bag. All my things should be packed in two "panniers" and the large nylon bag that they were going to New York.

To vacate the room, I packed everything in the best possible way. Most of my travel I put things in shopping bags and made my "out". I still had some "bugingangas" to buy, then went out to the street.

Three hours later I'm back. Arrived? Nothing. Sit back and wait. Look at the clock, watching the entrance, control nerves. Un delivery of "UPS" enters. Nothing. A few minutes later, another. Nothing. Only around two o'clock it appears. It's time to run ...

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