Sunday, September 21, 2008

City of... Humidity

Troy here...This morning found us... sleeping, imagine that. Casey our host said she had to bike uptown to meet with someone about buying her car, and she wanted to know if we wanted to bike with her. They have a pile of bikes on there back porch for couch surfers to use. Of course we said yes. We were sitting around waiting for a phone call to say that money had been wired to us so we could head out to Houston.

So we hopped onto our bikes, one which was referred to as "Deathtrap" and the other one had a seat which refused to stay in one place and continually flip straight up—pointing right at one’s rump... this of course made for awkward riding. We headed out for our leisurely 9 mile bike ride, much out of shape from a week of sitting around twiddling our thumbs, and sleeping in the car. Ridding through Downtown New Orleans was beautiful—an amazing city to be sure.

As my brother put it, "It’s not every day you get to ride on a bike that’s older than you are, through a city that’s older than your country." We rode to Tulane university, and rode around Audubon Park. While in the park we saw a gorgeous stone pavilion and headed for it. When we got there, we had to stop and watch the locals who were practicing what can only be described as some odd mixture of tai-chi, and 80's pop dance.

To top it off, at everyone’s feet was a nice warm can of Papst blue ribbon beer...mmmmmmm yummy! I can only imagine the taste, as it was close to 90 degrees. We finally got a phone call that we were not going to get any money, and we were pretty much stranded in New Orleans. So we headed “home”. Then Rachael called back, I tried to answer the call while ridding Deathtrap and nearly wiped out into a street car. She had called to tell me she had managed to borrow some more money, and we WOULD be able to get to Houston. Whew what a relief!

Hopping back on Deathtrap I caught back up to Jed and headed back to the apartment. After nine miles of no injuries, in the last half block I turned a corner and the peddles caught the ground…jumping and throwing my foot off, to be run over by said peddle and gouge my Achilles tendon. Not to complain, but…ok I will complain!!! Arrgh. Anyways, we decided to stay around and hang with our hosts for a while, there was no reason to leave so early and still get there late at night in the dark, with no idea where to go.

Later I walked the six blocks to find the closest Western Union, and found it in a literal hole in the wall convenience store called "Royal Convenience Store." Tucked in a nook in the base of a tall building down town, the inside was about the size of my living room, with a small glassed in booth for the Western Union guy. The man inside was…very unique. A small thin Jewish man, about my age, wearing both a Yarmulke and a pony tail.

He was dressed in a maroon polyester suit straight from the 70's. And had on a green and purple paisley shirt and a necklace with the symbol of the Klingon empire on it... Why I know the symbol for the Klingon Empire I refuse say, but other than that he was completely normal looking. I filled out my papers and slid them through, then as an afterthought I slid my passport through the slit as verification.

He thumbed through it and then asked "is this a new passport?" "Yes" I said laughing. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a worn-looking passport and slid it through the slot to me. "Man look at mine its so boring looking, these new ones are sweet.” Overlooking the absurdness of the fact that I now had his passport, I had to agree, the new ones are "way cooler." I slid his back through and remarked, "Yeah, I spent some time in Papua New Guinea earlier this year, so I had to get a new one." He stopped dead. "You've been to PNG?" he practically shouted.

Then he began to ask me a landslide of questions, "Did you fly into Port Moresby? Did you get to see the highlands? What were you doing?" I told him I was doing cultural and linguistics’ studies with New Tribes Mission. He was floored. Turns out he has been trying to go to PNG for five years. He is a philosophy major with a minor in cultural anthropology. And a special interest in PNG. A year ago he had written the embassy and asked them if they had any spare literature, so they sent him some flyers and a police manual in Pison {the trade language of PNG} and then he starts rattling of words and phrases in Pison, and asking me all these questions.

The clerk at the counter was staring at us like we were insane. We began discussing cargo cult, and cultural syncretism. In all, the whole thing lasted about 7 minutes but when I left, I was blown away at yet another odd "coincidence" in our journeys. Ahh, the life of a Bird! Oh yeah, when he asked me where I was from he was laughing when he said he girlfriend was from Roanoke as well. Yup, another good night. Later we rolled out of the “Big Easy” and headed to the “Lone Star”. Texas, here we come!!!

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