I write this correspondence outside the Passport Inn in Schuyler, New York, where I slept last night. I didn’t pay for the room. Last night, after the rain had finally let up, as the sun was beginning to set, I was reaching a point where I needed to stop for the night. I came across a church, Slavic Pentecostal. There were lots of cars there and obviously something going on, so I stopped in. It was 7pm. I asked a man walking in with his family if there was a service going on tonight. He said there was and that I should stay. I told him that I was traveling through and looking for a dry place to sleep tonight. He said I should stay for the service, and I would surely find something. He said the service was two hours long, so I was hesitant. By then, it would be completely dark, and if I didn’t find something, well, then I would have to find something. Of course then I reminded myself that I needed to just have faith. Something would work out, and even if no one here could put me up, there was an awning in front of the church that would keep me dry. I’ll admit that it took a bit to convince myself to stay, but I had no where else to go, and I was wet and tired. So I stayed.
I went inside to listen to the service. The place was packed, and it wasn’t a small church either. The service, however, was completely in Russian. I understood nothing. I stood around for a few minutes then decided to change clothes and wait outside for a bit and eat some dinner. As nine rolled around, I went back inside in hopes of talking to someone or seeing the man I had talked to before the service began. As I sat in the foyer area, a man, one of the pastors, came up and asked me who I was. I told him my situation and asked if he might be able to help me find a place to stay. I asked if I could sleep in the church. He told me they had no place for me to stay, no bed. I told him I didn’t need a bed; I just wanted a dry place to lay my head. He said to wait until the service was done.
As the service completed and people came bustling out into the lobby, chatting and greeting, I stood and waited. Some young guys talked to me for a bit, obviously recognizing that I did not belong there. They were friendly but not very talkative. The pastor returned a few times, telling me to stay a little longer; he would have something. Finally he returned and told me some people were going to take me to the motel down the street. I informed him that I did not have enough money to pay for a motel room. He said they were going to pay for it. I told him that wasn’t necessary; I would be fine with just sleeping at the church; no need for them to pay that money. He said it was just fifty dollars, not a big deal. I accepted. Why not. Warm shelter, a shower, and even internet, it turns out. And this morning, as I have been typing this text, the manager here came up and handed me five dollars to get breakfast at the diner next door. Thank you.
These last few days have been rough. It has rained every single day since I left Rhode Island, save one. Two days ago I managed to somehow miss most of it, only catching some sprinkles here and there. It poured some places just before I arrived, but I stayed pretty dry. That night I slept outside at a big park/shrine/church. It was beautiful: a big park with walking trails and a coliseum-style church building. I slept, with permission of one of the priests, on a porch outside one of the buildings, a welcome center or something. It was quiet and peaceful there. Once the sun went down, all the walkers left and I was alone- just me and the mosquitos. And what a hoard there was. I put on long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, a beenie cap, and tied a handkerchief around my neck. That left only my hands and face exposed. I was devoured all night. There was no escape. I should have set up my hammock, as it has a canopy of mosquito netting, but I didn’t want to deal with setting it up/taking it down. Damn laziness. My face is covered with bites, all piled up on top of each other. I can resist the itch well, except when the sun is out and warm. Oh well. It’s all part of it, I suppose. As long as I don’t get malaria or bird flu or one of those other terrible mosquito-transmitted diseases, I’ll be fine.
I gotta say that I’m really getting tired of this rain, though. Everyone says this is the wettest summer they’ve had up here in a long time. Always a chance of scattered thunderstorms, every day. I know that once this system clears out it won’t be the last I see of rain on this journey, but I could sure use a little break, even if it means returning to the heat. All I have to do with the heat is make sure I drink lots and lots of water and get plenty of potassium. That’s cake compared to getting soaked every day and riding on wet streets with cold, stinging rain battering my face.
Anyway, enough bitching. That’s life. The sun is shining now. I have five dollars to eat breakfast. Tonight I will reach Syracuse, where I will be couchsurfing. Hell, I slept in a decent hotel room last night. It’s time to move on and move forward. I’ll be at Niagara Falls in a few days; then it’s on into Canada for a day or two. I still have a while before I reach family in Chicago, but I’m really looking forward to that.
And now, after a short conversation with Sue, the friendly housekeeper here at the Passport Inn (she said to make sure I mentioned her on here), I’m off again. Thanks for the bag of ice.