So I awoke with very little sleep. The hostel was absolutely crap. The beds were tiny, staff were awful, no wi-fi and no blankets. Oh and the tiny prison beds had those plastic sheet covers on the mattress, you know the ones for public beds so when Mr Pees-the-bed cant hold it doesnt cost them any money on replacements.
I awoke just before 11, and as I was strapping B1 on my back, the cleaning ladies were at the door. I was bummed, I wanted to make it 6/6.
I went to the desk, dropped the sheets off(their lame policy) and headed back onto Washington St, Miami.
I was famished, and went to get some nourishment into me belly. I wandered around, and found some Italian spot I thought I'd try first. I was so tired, and I hadnt showered, so my hair was still making up its own rules, and the bags under my eyes screamed of drug abuse, so I wasnt surprised when they said no.
I had run out of business cards, and one of the priorities was finding a print shop willing to print some cards, and maybe even a flyer or two...
I found 2 print shops on the strip, and when I approached them, one said yes, but their printer busted in the process. I felt extra bad, as they were now out of commission for the day, and they were doing me a favour. After apologizing a million times(it wasnt my fault, but I still felt so guilty) I left to try the other. They said no way, they dont print anything less than 1000 units. Bummer, but I knew it was a long shot, and was never expecting anything. I continued on in my search for food. I found a pizza joint, and they said not a problem. Hugo behind the desk was super cool, and when we got chatting about soccer, we were interrupted by a young dude who looked exactly like everything your mother warned you about. He offered to buy me a milkshake, and I accepted. He was real cool, and told me (despite his Wutang-ified) image how much he hated the way people treated eachother. I always tell people you can never judge how people are based on appearances. He was better spoken than most of the affluent individuals cruising in their Jags' that I had met.
After I left, I continued on, heading to the library to pickup my boots, and try to meet with Jeremy. I wandered down Collins Ave and stopped in a fancy hotel to use thier courtesy lobby computer(I often do this instead of pulling out my laptop. Note: most expensive hotels have a free internet access computer for guests. I am never a guest.)
I made my way down towards the library and found my boots. Despite my attempts to hide them, in a city that never sleeps, someone had found them. More like 20 people had found them and used them as an ashtray. They smelled like a pirate hooker after a shift in a logging camp. I just ended up walking across the street, and tossed them over a fence in a construction site. I didnt plan on losing them, I will to return and get them, hopefully they will still be there. When Im not wearing them, theyre super awkward to carry, so I normally ditch them in a hiding spot. I guess I need to find better hiding spots.
I went into the library to ask for directions and since the lineup was massive, just decided to ask a girl in line. She was on her way to a job interview, and was super friendly.She told me where I needed to go. Good luck on the interview Eva!
I had a woman contact me from my blog offering a couch to stay on. It was in Ft Lauderdale, and even though it was out of the city, it was a place to stay from someone very generous, and would get me out of the streets, not having to worry about finding a place, or safety.
Im burning approximately 3300 calories a day, and intaking only about 1200, if Im lucky.
I went to find some more grub, and stopped at a very cool pizza place. Dont think its like Im a pizza-monster, its just that theyre usually one of those places that are easier to approach, as theyre often independant, cheap, and steady. Pizza Bar on Collins Ave was a super cool spot, with old fashioned brick interior, and large plasma TVs playing Superbad. Zack, the manager, was superbad, ass that is, and had no problem, in fact, wanted to chat about the trip, and thought it was pretty wild. He like many before, thought the concept of hitchhiking was extremely dasngerous, and couldnt believe how far I had come. The slices were bigger than the guy from the Green Mile, and he tossed me 2.
Super mega jumbo slices! They were $4 a pop, and you got to watch the dudes flipping the dough up Italian styles, and it was super cool. Thanks again Zack, youre the man!
I wolfed them down while watching Superbad, which is such a funny flick.
While I was eating, minding my Ps and Qs, a family entered, and sat down beside me. They were of obvious wealth, as the Louis Vuitton bags, matching Polo shirts and Gucci shoes told me so. I looked over my shoulder as they sat down, and they had obviously seen me before I them, because when she spun around, she scoffed at the sight of me.
She blankly stared at me, and in a hiss, asked me to move my bags. They were not remotely close to her. I knew it was just a BITCH move, and totally unnecessary. She was only doing it to be nothing more than a complete wench.
I asked her 'what for' and she looked at me with a twisted, pursed lips look that told me she had no real reason, only to be nasty. I knew this, and wasnt in the mood to give in to a person like that. I felt like telling her my project, and informing her she was more or less the Anti Christ, and that she should change the way she thinks. (although I really just wanted to cuss her out knowing her feminine husband would sit there with the same sour faced look). Then I looked over her shoulder, saw her immensely overweight kid whining about his soda, which I bet intruded her perfect image lifestyle, and looked back at her Botox injected face. I knew she had enough problems, and was one of those surface wives; intent on keeping up with the Jones'. Instead, I only moved B1 closer to her designer shoes, and knowing it bothered the crap out of her, winked like a smug arse I try not to be, but sometimes... you have to. I had no problem in this case. She was a woman probably worth millions, judging by her husband's fake tan and Rolex, and her designer wardrobe. who has probably spent her entire life in and out of first class planes into resorts. She has no concept of humanity, reality or compassion for other people. These people sicken me. I dont care how much money you have, some of the most genuine people are worth quite a bit, but she was a total slag.
ANYWAYS after turning back to the movie, with a fantastic feeling of satisfaction knowing she didnt get her way, and I know she always does, I continued munching the yummy pizza, and thanked Zack, the owner. I almost wanted to stay and watch the rest of the hilarious movie(McLovin is a friggen G.) but I had to carry on.
I bet when I left she Purell-ed the shit out of her hands to rid the diseases I gave her.
I was going to meet Jeremy, who was downtown at a Marina on the Miami side of the port, also looking for a boat. When I found out he was in the opposite direction, I just decided to head to the airport, where I would catch my Tri-Rail train to Ft Lauderdale.
On the bus, I noticed a couple with a bunch of bags similar to mine, and since I had not met anyone cool enough to go backpacking in a long time, sparked conversation. They were from Norway, and were returning from an 8 month tour of South America. They were on their way to a flight to Colorado to meet with family before heading to California. Lars and Julia were super cool, and we talked about how lame the people in Miami are, places we've been and a bunch of other stuff. As we got to the airport, they tossed me $20. I was totally shocked, and refused, as they too were backpackers, and I knew were on a similar budget to me(well noone is on my budget, as I dont have a budget) As much as I tried to refuse, Lars insisted, and I pocketed the bill. Even though I tried telling them it was ok, I needed that money as I had tapped into funds at the hostel. They balanced it out, and I was again even in the money that I had been donated. [for the record; I have not spent a SINGLE dollar out of pocket, only what has been generously given to me by the amazing people I have met along the way. I entered with $350, and still have it. I have been given over $300 by kind, generous, people on the way. I cant explain the feeling of having a complete stranger beleive in something you are sacrificing so much for, and aide in the project]
They had to rush off to catch a flight, and we exchanged emails. Hi Lars and Julia, I hope you made it OK, Takk deg og safereisinger !
As I wandered to the Tri-Rail stop, I asked a rail attendant about tickets, and tried to schnoop from her answers if there was anyway around it. (I usually ask if fare is machine paid or driver discretional, ie: do I pay on the bus or pre-purchase the ticket beforehand)
It was machine based, and I couldnt get around it. They also have special constables that monitor the train and do regular checks, with massive fines for free-riders. That even means young lads working their way from North America to Africa for free nineynine.
While I was asking the woman, who by the way, like so many people in Miami had gold-fronts. -In case you dont know what gold fronts are, they are ri-god-damn-diculous plated caps permanently crusted onto your chompers. Yes, thats right. Rappers, pimps, wannabe gangsters and several bus drivers in Miami have gold fronts. It looks awful, and I have no idea how the hell they got a job doing what they do with those things. Every time I see them, I want to purchase a Russian Submarine and fire heat seeking missiles to Lil' Johns place of residence, as he is the reason hip hop is dead. Seriously, he should be strung to a post and shot Old Yeller styles. ODB made 'em cool, rappers today are just fools. (golly,wheres my record deal?)
Ok sorry, so while I was getting nowhere with Lil Kim, I was approached by an airline pilot who offered to point me in the right direction. He told me what I needed to do and where. We got chatting, as it was still another 30mins until the bus came, and I told him about my project. He was pretty interested in it, and actually offered to buy my $5 ticket to get to Ft Lauderdale. He has just returned on a flight from Haiti, and we got talking about all things related to my project, and people like that woman who was as useless as a belt on an emo kid. When the shuttle came to take us to the train station, our conversation grew deeper, as he was a veteran pilot for a major airline, and had a grasp of societal behaviours that exceeded almost anyone I had met on this project. As we got on the train, he asked me my plans, and when I told him, offered to let me stay at his house, in DelRay beach. I didnt want to retract the offer from the kind woman who reached out to me, but when he offered a few pints and some of his wife's home cooking, I couldnt refuse. I called the woman to thank her(thanks Tina!) and let her know I wasnt going to be in FtL. I have a plan to thank her for her generosity.
While on the train, I was explaining my strategies for the next step, and the man beside me overheard, and was a yacht master himself, and offered some great tips on finding a boat.
There was a flight attendant with us, and when it was her stop, Steve being the gent he is went to help her with her baggage off the train. Cue rail cop entrance.
I noticed his gun right away, which initially surprised me. Then I realized I was in Florida, and eveyrone and their Gran has one. He noticed me immeditaly. I wasnt sure if it was the Afghani around my neck, the massive bags, or the fact that I fit the profile of freerider. D, all of the above.
He came rigth over, asked for my ticket. I wasnt worried, as Steve had bought one for me, so I thought I was ok. Mmmmnope.
The tickets have the stop printed on, and my original stop was called Cypress Creek, but I was convinced to go to DelRay beach afterwards, one stop further North. A big no-no for the moustache clad, rule enforcing patroller. I told him the situation; that I switched stops in mind while on the train, Steve had even handed me his pass while he went downtairs, but I didnt clue in. The guy was actually reasonable and understanding, and only wrote me a written warning. Still a waste of resources, but I could have been fined. Even though I was never going to ride the system again, he still wrote me up and asked me for ID, as oppose to just doing the same with a verbal warning. Whatever.
Steve returned, we had a laugh at the luck and not 20 seconds later were off the train at our stop.
We climbed into his SUV, and headed to his place.
Driving through the beach town of DelRay was funny. There were train tracks that literally divided the town. The expression 'wrong side of the tracks' was literal here. One side was massive houses with a Benz in the laneway, the other a run down bungalow with a crowd of homies rolling dice and cooking chicken on the porch. Im not stereotyping, I saw it. It was sad to see. I hate stereotypes, but Florida meets everyone in textbook fashion. The old and rich couldnt give a shit as they cruise around in an $80k car with the A/C on, while there are lineups of African-Americans outside Popeyes chicken, slapping fives and combing their afro's.
We pulled into his house, a large, 3 car on a private drive, on a private lake. He proudly informed me he had designed it and oversaw the building from the ground up. Two beautiful BMWS, a boat, a charged Mustang and a trailer with a Nascar in the driveway, Steve knew how to have fun, and he told me aside from flying commercial planes, he was a racecar driving instructor. Life in the fast lane, which maybe explained his easy going manner in picking up a scraggly hitchhiking journo.
He took me inside, and introduced me to his beautful and lovely wife Ellen. When she asked about my travels, and how I had gotten to the house, she was quite intrigued. Steve informed her of how we met, and she was very cool with it, in fact found it quite funny.
Steve and Ellen!!
P.S. They have seats in their living room from Fenway Park!! -Jealous Coop?
Steve brought me upstairs to the suite styled rooms his boys vacated, as they were upstate in law school. I had my pick, and after a quick flop-comfort test, chose where I would be staying for the night. After lugging the heavy packs up the stairs, I came down and continued chatting about anything and everything. They were beyond hospitable, and welcommed the idea of a new mouth to eat. Ellen is an absolute genius in the kitchen, and cooked us kebabs, rice and caesar salad. Like a typical Jewish mother, she made sure I was full. And full I was. It was delicious, and I ate every last grain of rice, as I had been on a pizza and greasy burger diet. Breakfast of champions.
After a dinner full of conversation, I was informed we were going to be going out for a few pints in DelRay.
As the food digested, we climbed into the car, and headed down Atlantic Ave, the main strip in town. We went to a lovely British pub, the Blue Anchor, which was an authentic Brit styled pub whose entire street front was imported from a pub in England. As usual, football on the tele, and English barmaids. We sat down, and I recommended one of my weapons of choice, Strongbow. They both had never had it, and loved it. I dont know how anyone could not. After a tall pint and some conversation with the cute minder behind the taps, Lee, we left for a different flavour; a New York styled drinking hole. We drove a few blocks further to the Sail Away and it was quite a bit different. Although equally as quaint and dingy, the bar was smokey and full of basball paraphanelia while loud rock music played. We sat at a table, ordered a few Bud's and joked about the difference. They had a quirky ring toss game, with a metal ring attached to a string and the object was to throw it onto a hook hanging on the wall. Sounds easy. I couldnt do it sober, let alone a few beers deep. There were a few locals doing it everyother time and it had us wondering just how much practice they had. Glug glug.
Thats when Ellen noticed a man she though was familiar, and mentioned she thought it was an old friend. Steve said not a chance, and after some convincing, realized it was. Steve went and approached the man, and he didnt recognize, so he toyed with him until he did.
David was an old friend of the couple, of whom they had lost contact for over eight years, and had been searching extensively to reacquaint. They couldnt beleive the luck of running into him randomly. They said it was thanks to me, and that no other way would they have been reunited. EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON, my friends. Had Steve not helped me out, offered me a place, and gone drinking at the precise time we did, they never would have met.
It also turns out, David was a ship captain. A possible ship captain who could take me or know of someone who could, we will find out.
It was actually an amazing feeling that I had something to do with their reunion.
After several coldies, it was time to pack it in, and we drove the short distance back down to their home, and after we chatted a bit more, headed our separate ways to bed. I went up and laid in bed, and still couldnt fathom the rollercoaster. Just that day, I was hungry, wandering, dealing with many 'No's', and here I was, in a massive bed, in a massive home, with two wonderful parents ensuring all of my needs were met.
I went to bed with once again a strenghtened faith in humanity. Although I have, and today had seen polar opposites of the spectrum, experiencing it is something totally unadjustable.
I couldnt sleep, buzzing from the thoughts of this trip, remembering all of those who I had met, and helped me along the way. I often review footage at night and log it, but didnt feel like it, so I went into the hallway and scoured the bookshelf for a night read.
I found a book I had been wanting to read for quite some time; Three cups of tea, about a mountain climber who stumbles across a mountain town in Pakistan and returns to build a school. Then he builds fiftty-five for rural children who otherwise wouldnt have the chance to learn. So far a great read, I recommend it. F*ck Oprah, its in Nathan's book club.
Reading helps me sleep, and I dozed off an hour later.
Where in the world is Nate?
There I am!