Day 209. Monday, 24th February. Off to Miami, Florida, USA

A very short night. Dennis’s phone alarm woke me at 4am. (He of impaired hearing, couldn’t hear it!) Mine failed to go off. In fact I couldn’t find the phone, but eventually found it under the mattress when packing up. Neither of us felt like moving.

After cornflakes and granola in the back of Poki, we made sure everything was secure and packed away and headed to check in. An easy process on a machine. Immigration and security were equally straightforward. The terminal was freezing, so we we very pleased to have brought sweaters with us.

American Airlines was typically abysmal. At the door were two cabin crew. A female with long, loose, tatty hair – would not have been allowed by the carriers I worked for. Long hair had to be up. She was chatting to a male crew member. No welcome on board or direction to one’s seat. Complete disregard for passengers.

Being a very early flight, I thought it may not be a popular time, but it was full. Only an hour and 15 minutes. A cup of coffee and 2 biscuits helped pass the time.

On arrival at Miami International we were directed to a machine to enter our details at immigration. All easy. Then queue to see a human being. In other US cities, this is where the grilling usually starts. Not here, a disinterested officer took our machine produced slips and added them to a pile in front of him. He didn’t even look at our proffered passports. Unbelievable the difference in procedure at different entry points.

Next stop the car hire centre. I had provisionally made a booking with Budget for a Hyundai Elantra. When we reached the centre the queue at Budget was long. We were next to an Ezy Rental desk with no queue, so asked them for a quote. It was just $1 difference for the same car, so we decided to take it.

Once the paperwork was completed and we had the keys we set off. We had brought our Sat-Nav with us, so found our way reasonably easily to Office Depot where we were to collect 4 packages. The Manager, Viselle, was holding them for us.

On asking for Viselle, we were advised she was on holiday and there was no knowledge of our packages. Not the best of starts. However, another staff member was consulted and she took us to Viselle’s desk. Great. Under the desk we’re our 4 packages. Tent poles and bicycle parts for Tim and Sarah, a new portable toilet and a light for inside Poki.

So far so good. We then set off for Jupiter about 100 miles north of Miami. Easy with the Sat-Nav. Until we were almost at Jupiter and were discussing whether we should get the compressor we had ordered or whether we should buy a new fridge. In the process we missed the Jupiter turn off and could not get off the motorway for another 20 miles!

Eventually arriving at the Engel office in Jupiter, we were about an hour later than anticipated. Our compressor was all packed up in the box which FedEx in Miami had sent back to Engel. We discussed at length whether we should take this, or buy a whole new fridge with Kevin, the salesman/technician. In the end we gambled on taking the compressor. A new fridge weighed 30kgs and the box was large. We were concerned it would be too large to take as checked baggage.

By now it was mid afternoon and we headed back to Miami airport, by a more leisurely route. We drove through West Palm Beach, passing manicured golf courses and expensive housing. We saw a sign for Abacoa and thought we would investigate, as hunger pangs were raging. It was very busy with police everywhere. The reason for this soon became clear, as we passed a stadium where a major baseball game was in progress. Dennis was tempted to go and watch.

Finding a parking place wasn’t easy, but we got a spot opposite a Cuban restaurant. This was showing the baseball game on TV, so Dennis got his wish. The restaurant was full of posters of Havana featuring old American cars. Run by Cubans, most of the clientele was also Cuban. We felt as if we were on holiday from our holiday, as it were.

Heading back towards the airport we stopped for some other purchases. Using walmart’s wifi, I managed to book us into a motel close to the terminal and car hire return depot.

The motel was easy to find and had a large car park. Check-in was entertaining. The check-in clerk was a crazy character. Our room was right at the end of the corridor, so the wifi unfortunately didn’t reach that far. We watched a bit of news on TV, quite a novelty for us, but we’re so shattered we soon fell into bed.

Sorry no photos. We didn’t take any..:(

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