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Author Liz O'Connor (UK Renza Afghans)

On Tuesday Terry and David had a golf tournament arranged by David's fire service, and MaryAnn and I went off shopping in Clinton. We visited Pet Shops - you should have seen the small birds they had on offer, many of them would have looked good in our aviary of finches, canaries, cockatiels, etc. Then we went to the fresh fish store - they sell shrimps (we call them prawns) in five different sizes from small to mouth-wateringly big and the largest cost $15 per pound (that's about 10) but I have never seen prawns so large in the UK-if only!) While in Clinton we visited all sorts of shops, I was hunting for gifts to bring back to England. We stopped off at a place by the river, close to the watermill, and guzzled blueberry pie with fresh cream, and tea! When we got home MaryAnn cooked Calamari Italian style - no time to worry about diets!

On Wednesday we went to New York - what a city! Larger than life and even noisier, it was not a place for the faint hearted. First of all you hide video cameras, and wasn't it typical as soon as our camera was in the boot (trunk) we saw a couple of youths being arrested with the full works - guns aimed at them, hand cuffed behind their backs, full stretch over the side of the police car while they are checked for arms. This is the stuff movies are made of (and our camera was in the boot!) We saw the huge, well known Maces department store; the Empire State Building, The World Trade Centre (we intended to eat in the restaurant at the top of this building, but it is still closed), we travelled through Chinatown, we saw Madison Square Gardens New York is ELECTRlC! But how on earth any one could live there is beyond me, the place is wild! As you drive through the streets, you are held up all the time and car horns are honked all the time, at everyone/everything, for any reason at all. All yellow cabs seem to have dented corners, which is no wonder considering the narrow gaps they go through to get to wherever they are going. If you get held up, you can always depend upon a kerbside trader selling you hot dogs, burgers, drinks, you name it and they cook it while you re stuck in a traffic jam - everyone is more prepared to wait while your burger is cooked than if you are holding up traffic for any other reason! That s New York!

We went out to the bay to see the Statue of Liberty and we were surprised at the number of people there - thousands. Apparently they can boast 2 to 3 thousand people going through this tourist spot every day of the year, and having seen the numbr of people waiting to go up the Statue while we were there, I think they had all arrived at the same time. We managed to climb to the first level, but it was impossible to go any further simply because of the sheer volume of people waiting to go up.

From the Statue we went on to Ellis Island which was the place where all immigrants had to be vetted before being allowed into the United States. David and MaryAnn were particularly affected by this place, bearing in mind both their grandparents had had to stay on Ellis Island before being allowed to make the United States their home. Having seen the conditions in which they had to stay (very cramped) and considering the number of people going through this building at its busiest time, for some it must have been a nightmare. It showed you examples of immigrants - we saw one which was a 9 year old Russian girl and her parents had already arrived in the USA, how on earth they could have left their 9 year old daughter behind doesnt bear thinking about, particularly when you realise all immigrants were checked for eyes, hearing, lameness, etc, and any defect physically meant you were sent back on the same boat you came in, even if you were part of a family and they were OK, if you weren t, back you went. You have to realise that at its busiest, many thousands of hopefuls were going through Ellis Island in a single certainly stirred emotions in David and MaryAnn, and even though they have never visited this place before, I think they will sometime soon in the future.

Back in the city, we went to an Italian's Italian restaurant - WOW!, and from there we went shopping, and Terry managed to find the one thing he really wanted - a fedora - a GENUINE American hat.!


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