Sunday, February 28, 2016

Turks & Caicos --> Florida

Sunday, Day 52

I slept in until 8:30 this morning.  Not that late considering I was still up at 12:30 last night.  Just couldn't sleep for some reason!

I rolled out of bed around 9, and by 9:30 I was pounding the pavement.  I was so sore and thought maybe a little run would help ease some of the muscles.  Plus the sun was shining...kind of!  I mean more than it had been in the last 24 hours, so I had to get out and take advantage of that.

I only made it 2 miles, and only part of that was on the sand at the beach.  It was SO windy and the sand was so soft.  That makes for a touch combo to run in.  That, and the fact that I'm incredibly out of shape.  Yikes!  It was a slow, painful run.


This was the stretch of road I was walking on late Thursday night by myself:

When I got back to the apartment, I showered and re-packed all my stuff up.  I'm getting good at that.  Everything definitely has a spot in my suitcase/backpack and it's a pretty solid routine.  Just in time to go home next week. ;)

Speaking of next week, I spent the rest of the morning researching and calling places in Florida to rent an RV.  I really want to get one to drive through the Florida Keys.  I don't know why, I've never done it before and I think it just sounds fun.  And if the price is right, it could be less than a hotel and rental car!  No luck's still a little up in the air as to what I'm going to do tomorrow, but I haven't given up yet!  (Turns out you're supposed to book those in advance...not the day of.)


Since I downloaded Skype to make the Florida calls (I've survived this entire trip without making a phone call) I decided to call a taxi driver instead of chance it hitchhiking with all of my stuff.  My guy, Calvin, was busy, but gave me the number of a friend of his.  He picked up and said he would be there in 5.  Easy.

Rico showed up, and man, he was a little creepy.  I almost didn't want to get in with him.  He kept talking to himself and just had the creepiest grin on his face.  And ever time he would look in the rear view mirror at me, he would be like whispering to himself and just laughed this scary laugh.  I mean it's funny looking back now that I'm out of the car, but at the time, I was wondering if he was taking me to the airport or to somewhere to eat me. ;)

My flight was at 2, and I was at the airport by noon.  Two hours is really too early for any of these small airports, but better safe than sorry.  They all say you have to be there that early for an international flight, so whatever.  I'll follow the rules on this one.  (I've only missed one flight in my life and it was for not showing up two hours early in Costa Rica for an international flight.)

The JetBlue line was pretty short and it didn't take any time at all to get my bag checked and boarding pass in hand.

But the ONE security line was another story.  How can a place that has as many tourists and flights as Turks & Caicos have ONE line to get through security!?  It literally wrapped outside the building by the time I got about half way through.  And it took forever!  But by the time I got to the front they were so far backed up they weren't even really checking anything.  They were just frantically trying to get people as fast as possible, so that was nice.  

I still had some time to kill at the airport before we boarded.  There was free wifi in the waiting area (only one area at the airport for all the gates), and I paid $3 for some Ritz crackers.  Like, one little package of them.  THREE DOLLARS!  I could have got two boxes for that much back home.  Airport prices always make me mad...

We boarded the plane on time and took off on time.  Thank goodness the rain held off long enough for us to board.  It wasn't a short walk from the building to the plane. 

Flying over Turks & Caicos was pretty cool.  Anna had told me about the geography of the island Providencials.  It is surrounded by a reef wall.  So the water was dark blue and wavy until it hit this wall, and then it was sandy and shallow and calm water up to the beaches.  You could really see it from the sky.

You could really see it until we got above the clouds, that is.  It was still overcast when I left.  Such a bummer.  I definitely have to go back there and spend more time.  I want to see several of the other islands and do some diving on that wall!

About half way through the flight, the clouds disappeared, and we got quite the view of the Bahamas. I ran out of time for them on this trip.  Maybe when I go back to Turks & Caicos I will go there, too.  There are several islands there I really want to hit!  

I think I mentioned this when I flew from Fort Lauderdale to Turks, but JetBlue is just the best airline.  The planes are so nice, both of my flights were on time, and the in-flight service is the best!  TVs with lots of channels (free), water bottles and actual snacks to choose from (also free)!  And as many as you want!  I don't think they fly to KC, but if I have the option to fly with them again, I definitely will.  

We landed in Fort Lauderdale around 3pm.  Sunny and warm there.  Perfect weather.  Not too hot, not too cold.  I get it.  I get why so many people retire in Florida!


I was determined to save some money and take the bus and train down south towards Miami.  I did some research while I was in Turks & Caicos and had it pretty well figured out.  But man, I am so inpatient, haha!  In my defense, I did stand there and wait for over 30 minutes for the bus to show up. It was late, and I wanted to get down to South Beach and checked in to my hotel.  So I broke down and requested an Uber.

And literally two minutes after I requested the Uber and the driver was on the way...the dang bus showed up.  UGH.

Oh well, it was going to take 2.5 hours via bus and train to get close to South Beach and then I would still have to Uber to the hotel.  I was saving about an hour and a half with an Uber.

Plus Uber is way more entertaining (and clean).  My driver was a  young gay guy from Minneapolis that moved to For Lauderdale to be with his boyfriend.   I got all kinds of good Florida tips and stories from him.  I mean, the trip took an HOUR in traffic, so we got lots of chatting in.

I was amazed at the sheer number of people and cars in South Beach.  I've only been there once before, and I don't remember it being SO packed.  And it was Sunday night, not a weekend!  

I booked a sketchy hotel on Hotels Tonight app while I was at the airport.  Riviera Hotel in South Beach, right on Collins Ave, a block from the beach.  Can't beat the location, but the room, eh, not so great.  It smelled funny and was old, but whatever.  It was cheap and only for one night!

After spending some time on the phone with Airbnb working out an issue (I requested a place to stay tonight and the girl took too long to respond but then still wanted to charge me), I decided to go try and find some food.  Lucky for me, there is not shortage of restaurants around South Beach.  And Espanola Way was just a block away.  Beach one block east, and this one block west:

I walked around and soaked it all in:  the bright lights, the flashy restaurants, the foreign languages and scantily clad Miami girls.  I don't know why, but I love South Beach.  It's just such an exciting place.  Always something going on there.  

I ended up at Numero 28, a pizza place...and ordered a plain 'ole pepperoni pizza.  Welcome back to the states, have a greasy pizza.  ;)

I only ate half of it, and picked off most of the pepperonis.  The other half went in the fridge back at the hotel for lunch tomorrow.  (So unhealthy, I know...)

I still can't get over Making a yeah, I spent another two hours in the hotel bed watching it before falling asleep.  

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