Interesting to see the changes over the 10yrs I've been visiting.
Good to see the Immigration forms finally redesigned leaving out foolish questions like: "Are you a terrorist" etc. cos I always used to feel tempted to tick the YES box to see if the Immigration Officer was paying attention, but after all the Homeland Security alerts I guess their Sense of Humour must be at a all time low.
Definitely signs of belts being tightened - even McDonalds turned down/off the air-conditioning on an unusually warm,sunny spring day. Quite a few people I knew had their days/hours cut, wonder if Guyanese will appreciate that it's not as easy as they think over there?
I noticed that it was mainly older Black men in their 60's begging on the streets around 6th Avenue and a late middle-aged Black woman in 14th Street, holding up a cardboard sign saying "Tired of Prostitution, please help" The Bangladeshis seemed to corner the Perfume market, fake and otherwise at the corner of Canal Street and the Afghanis seemed to be doing quite well with the Street Food Mobile Units to the dismay of the regular fast-food stores stuck with higher Overheads. The cheap stores were selling things at about the regular price in the Big Stores. My favourite store, Macys, reigned supreme with a Shoe sale but unfortunately in the excitement they couldn't find the other side of most of the pairs and I emerged exhausted with two pairs after three hours about to faint from the heat!
One Guyanese guy commmented he liked the camaraderie of Guyanese and West Indians over in NY where race was not an issue! I felt sorry for the Black Caribbean Airlines agent whose task was to 'persuade' people with taggable baggage to put in the Hold. I surreptitiously zipped up my expandable zip as I had bought stuff for the office at a Trade Show (and was astonished that the person who scanned the bag didn't pull me over!- how do they decide??)and was preparing my best pleading voice claiming fragility when the White Guy ahead refused pointblank- the CA agent went to block his passage into the 'plane when a young Latino colleague said to him that he should let the guy go through, the CA agent went ballistic and threw down the Tags and walked off-- I felt sorry for him as jobs don't seem that easy to come by, but relieved I that I got to stay with my third piece of luggage!
The DEA training Class of 2011 was out at 1am, complete with Sniffer Dog but I have to say the British do it better-- they do the Exercise when you arrive, though thinking about it, I remember reading that 75% of U$100 bills had traces of cocaine but I had blown my cash a long time ago!
Immigration in Guyana had improved also and 'a brother' pushed my trolly forward in the queue as I nipped off the the toilet, as the one on the Airplane had suspiciously sticky spots on the floor before Take-off which deterred me from further visits for the rest of the trip. Here's the surprise-- we have better toilet paper in Public restrooms at the Airport-- two-ply and softer than in NY!