The next day we get up around 8:00 and keep going south towards New Jersey without fuelling. We figure it is more economical if we are lighter and we travel at half tank. This is a smart thing to do, except when you are heading directly towards an area hit by a super storm and most of the gas stations are closed down. Soon we start seeing endless lines of cars parked in the emergency lane on the highway waiting for their turn to fuel and we realize our mistake but it is too late. We are now at quarter tank.
People with jerry cans and even five-gallon water bottles are waiting in lines at the few open gas stations. Who knows how long they will be waiting for a few gallons of fuel. On Tuesday, hurricane Sandy has hit badly this region and three days later there are still many places with no electricity and no gas. It is incredible how dependant we are on things like oil and electricity and how suddenly and unexpectedly things can go wrong.
We get to New Jersey at about 8 pm. We drive through some neighborhood with no electricity. All buildings are dark; the streets are deserted; only police cars with their red and blue lights wait at almost every corner. Like a dark forest, a city at night with no electricity is a terrifying post apocalyptic place.
We are almost out of gas. So we spend the next two cold nights parked in Jersey City without using the generator for heating. We switch on the propane stove instead and we keep the oven door open, blue fire burning inside, heating the whole place. For light we have three small solar lanterns that Ivo bought from e-bay. They are great!
Saturday and Sunday we visit our friends in New Jersey, a young family with a cute four-month-old baby. They live in a penthouse in a building just across Manhattan. Ivo spent the first day helping our friend fixing his Ducati motor bike which, along with his two other cars, got submerged in the flooded garage of the building during hurricane Sandy. The two cars, along with many others, have drowned in terrible agony and there is no hope for them, but the bike had good chances to be resuscitated. Ivo has been studying how to repair motors, and this is a skill which often comes in handy. So they take apart the motor and start cleaning it from the salty water.
In the meantime, Viktor and I go for a tour in Hoboken. Our friend lends us two bicycles. Hoboken is a city in New Jersey that got hit by the storm really badly and the things that we see and experience there are truly heartbreaking. This is the ghost town we passed through last night and there is still no electricity. Now in the light of the day, people are out on the streets, waiting for hours at emergency fuel relief tanks, getting a free hot meal in big heated by generators tents, taking out flooded possessions from basements, slowly cleaning up the mess Sandy has left behind.
We spend the whole afternoon riding around, eating hot chicken noodle soup and burritos. I stumble upon some wet books thrown on the sidewalk and take a few. They are great books, some are in Spanish and I have studied them at Concordia University in my Spanish classes. Leyendas de Guatemala by Asturias for example is a treasure to me. I also find one titled Hitler’s scientists and I am happy to recognize doctor Joseph Mengele on the front picture. I have been researching him for quite some time now and I haven’t read this book. But it is dripping wet. I take it anyway, the others too, and I will try to dry them up, but most probably will have to get rid of them if they rot. There are so many other nice objects and furniture out on the sidewalks that got damaged by polluted seawater. There are also many that no one ever needed any ways and were just jamming the basements, waiting to be thrown out. The amount of garbage piled on the sidewalks is overwhelming.