I leave my cousin at the Key West Airport. I feel sad, but happy. It was really great to connect with family. At the American counter I lapse back into Spanish. The ticketing agent is from Peru. She checks my baggage all the way to Buenos Aires. Unfortunately we are so busy talking I do not notice she is sending them to Ezezia and not to Areoparque.
The Key West airport is tiny. Going through security is easy and soon I am on my flight to Miami. 45 minutes later I am in Miami International Airport. I need to check my backpack. It is 10 in the morning and I have until 6 pm. I want to go to Dolphin Square Mall. It is a smaller version of Sawgrass Mills. My last chance to go shopping.
The Miami airport is huge. At least to me. It takes me forever to figure out how to get to where I want to go. Finally I arrive at the baggage storage place. I make a note of where I am. Then I have to walk another 20 miles to get to where the buses are. It is not actually 20 miles,it just seems that way. People movers, elevators, and lots of walking.
Finally I arrive at the Metrobus station in the airport. People are so nice. I keep saying that. I know that. I also know it is more than my fake Ray Bans. I am not used to people being so nice and polite. The only other place in recent memory people were so nice was Chile. In the Metrobus station everything is automated. I buy a bus ticket with my credit card. A round trip ticket is $4.00. Everything is so efficient. Everything works.
I go out to where the buses are. I am not sure where to stand. I go ask in the kiosk. The agents are so pleasant. So unlike Subte agents who growl and bark at you in Buenos Aires. I go sit down on a bench and wait.
When the bus comes it is a new bus. Clean. The bus driver is a pleasant woman. I feel like I am going on a tour, not a city bus. She tells me how to insert my ticket. I feel like an idiot. I take a seat. The inside of the bus is clean. No one throws their garbage on the floor. The driver drives carefully through traffic, not like a maniac.
It is a long trip to Dolphin Square. It takes almost an hour. The bus goes through many neighborhoods. This is a regular city bus so many types of people are taking it. I find it interesting. It is a slice of life, even if it is slow.
We finally arrive at Dolphin Square. I ask the driver if I will find the bus here to come back. She tells me yes and asks me if I have the schedule. I have one. The buses run on a schedule not like in Buenos Aires where they run all the time. Or 4 at a time. Or not at all.
I enter the mall in the food court. That is a little gross. I hurry away from there and get into shopping mode. I don't have much time. It is almost 12 and I have to catch the bus at 3:45. I find my favorite stores. In the U.S. when they have sales, they have sales.
I enter into several stores. The Limited, New York New York, and others. Again, the customer service is so excellent. No clerks on cell phones, people who greet you. Everyone is so nice. It is almost like being in a fantasy. The hard part is finding my size. I don't know if size 4 is popular or they just stock up on lots of large sizes. But I can't seem to find stores with many size 4s or smaller.
By the time I get to Old Navy I am almost out of time and I am exhausted. I wasn't thinking clearly either. I should have bought more. I love that store. When I was standing in line there was a family from Venezuela behind me. The woman remarked to her husband "Now back to reality." I turned a little bit and saw a tear rolling down her cheek. I felt sad. In a way I know how she must feel.
I go to a few more stores but I cannot find my size. The stores have more large sizes than small sizes. Old Navy was the one store that had lots of my size. The same with shoes. Size 7 is a very popular size and I can't find it in any of the shoes I like. I make a note to go online and ask a friend if she will bring them to me. I don't dare try to have anything sent to me.
In a short time, I have done pretty well. I have 3 huge bags. I have not even spent that much. Everything was on sale. I wish I had more time. Why did I have to get sick? I have just enough time to have a frozen yogurt and then go wait for the bus. I have a thing about frozen yogurt in the U.S.
I find this place that has 10 flavors. Not only that, they have little tiny pill cups where they let you test the flavors. It is a self serve place and they charge you by the weight. I try the dulce de leche. Ugh. Yanquis no puede. I settle for blueberry, mango, and pineapple. When I get up to the counter they ask me if that is all. I have no desire for the array of garbage you can put on it. I think the other reason is because I did not fill up the massive cup. I paid $4.00 for my yogurt, the guy before me paid over $15. I mean really, how much yogurt can you eat? Well, I guess that is a stupid question. All I have to do is look around me. In Argentina it´s milanesas, here..frozen yogurt.
I walk out to where I have to catch the bus. There are many shoppers waiting. I think many people who have time between planes come here. When the bus comes, I have the same driver. She greets me with a smile; "Hello Sweetheart, did you enjoy your day?" I can never imagine a colectivo driver talking like that. Never.
As soon as we leave the shopping center I realize we are in rush hour traffic. I am nervous. I always get nervous when I have to catch an airplane. I hope I did not make a mistake taking a bus instead of the taxi.
The man across from me notices all my bags. "Compraste todo?" he asks. I am still finding it amazing that people here are talking to me directly in Spanish first and not in English. I laugh. I tell him, "Lamentable, no." He and the two men he is with are businessman from California. A real estate guy and two lawyers. I tell them I used to live in California.
This starts a lively discussion when they find out I live in Buenos Aires. "What the hell are you doing there?" They ask. "You know," I tell them, "Sometimes I ask myself the same question." I am invited by each one of them to California during the discussion. They all live in different places; Visalia, Bakersfield, San Diego. I smile at each invitation.
Finally we pass all the traffic and we are moving smoothly. We will only be about a half hour late to the airport which is fine. I planned to get there at 5:00 so 5:30 is fine. I don't need to check in until 6:00. Once we are close to the airport, my new friends each give me their business cards and tell me to look them up when I come back to California. I thank them.
I walk rapidly on People Movers, elevators, etc. to get my backpack. Then I have to try and figure out how to get to TAM to check in. I have a small duffle in my backpack to put my new worldly goods in.
I make it to the TAM desk. The agent is really nice. TAM has merged with LAN. LAN is my other favorite airline. I can´t say I feel that way about TAM. He looks at my duffle. "Hey, I don´t want to charge you for that. Put your purse inside. That way you won´t get charge." I am shocked. I had called Tam the night before to ask about that and they told me that a backpack and a duffel would not be allowed. Oh well. I guess Omar the agent knows better, although he too, didn´t notice my bags were going somewhere different than me.
My trip was winding down. I was going back to Buenos AIres. I wasn´t sure how I felt about this. I went through Homeland Security. I felt like an idiot. I forgot my hair gel in backpack. I apologized profusely. "Throw it out. I´m sorry. Really. I´m so sorry." I think I amused them more than anything.
When I boarded my flight I looked at my baggage tags and discovered my luggage would be going to Ezezia and me to Areoparque. I figured I could straighten it out in San Paolo. I settled into my seat.
I had a great time in Florida. This was the first time I was back in the U.S. I felt sorry to leave. I actually thought about moving back and even doing computers. I haven´t thought about doing computer stuff for a long time.
Well you never know..do you?