A week in Florida. Waiting for Prado’s new injection pump to arrive from Dubai. Thus, the opportunity to drive along Florida’s condominium lined coast up to S. Augustin and back along the West coast.
Fort Lauderdale, 13th February
Yes. We’re on the plane. From San Salvador to Fort Lauderdale. Not because we’re tremendously keen to visit Uncle Don’s Own Country. No, but because Prado cries for a new injection pump.
We’re flying Spirit Airlines. Cheap, but bare. They even charge for a glass of water 3 US$. Nevertheless, they also provide some incredible services – at least the American way. E.g. their seats are not inclinable. We know that too from Europe on very short flights. It allows airlines to squeeze a few more chicken into a plane. With Spirit Airlines it’s different: their seats are pre-inclined to improve our comfort. Great company thinking of everything, isn’t it?
Well, it’s just 2h to Florida and …
… we’re in a completely different world.
Especially concerning daily cost. Just multiply Salvadorian prizes by 3, 4 or 5 and you’re ok for Florida. At least in Fort Lauderdale. Especially in the current high season when all Americanadians not having the courage to migrate to Mexico or further south seem to gather in Florida until winter has gone.
But let’s start where the US begin: at the border. Queuing up for hours. To socialize with an unfriendly immigration officer. Definitely not this time. In the plane, approaching Fort Lauderdale, the huge change somehow gets apparent as we don’t get this customs declaration.
Then in the airport: no queues, no sign of these supervisors pushing people to the correct lane, telling them that they may never enter paradise if using a cellphone now, not allowing anything else than waiting for his excellency – the immigration officer.
Now these guys are largely replaced by robots. Yes, real, friendly robots: scanning your passport, taking your finger prints, even taking a selfie for you. You answer this robot a few questions, he compares it with the data in the US chamber of horror and you get a printout. With that you go to 1 of these lonely immigration officers. He asks you why you come to the States, if you have money and if you want to stay forever. You just give him the right answers: I’m just a dump tourist with a credit card I need to empty. And for heaven’s sake who wants to stay in your beautiful country for more than a week. And you’re in for 6 months. What a relief this new system – at least compared to the previous 1.
More than 30 years have passed since our last visit to Florida. At that time, we were not too enthusiastic about this state. We considered it a little boring, without real sights or adventures. Thus, we definitely want to see what has changed and if we contemplate it now more interesting than last time.
Titusville, 15th February
We’re on the way to Palm Beach. A drive along Fort Lauderdale’s seafront, …
… then some 100 km thru endless condominiums – mostly sad looking areas without any signs of life; no shops, no restaurants, just all these apartments with incredible great names. Nevertheless, it looks like they’re all occupied by refugees from the icy north.
In between some clusters with pretty opulent houses. Apparently not the sleeperies for the poorest part of the population. A lot of imitated castles, imagined roman or Greek style temples, English cottages, or simply copies of Disney style buildings some guys admired during their childhood.
You name it – you find it. Most estates big enough to accommodate at least 15 – 20 persons. Remains the question if rich Americans share their families’ home with all their girl- or boyfriends and the kids they have with them? Who knows.
Near Palm Beach we encounter a lot of police. Roads closed, we cannot drive on along the coast. Not nice of the guys. And this way we miss the most interesting place in Florida: Mar al Lago. You know this place where even the Chinese President was supposed to play golf. Whatever, should you be interested in what we missed – click here: gggrrrrrhhh.
Should you be convinced you deserve a small discount next time you need to stay there, just call their boss at White House, Washington. Kindly note, he may change address some when.
Anyway, we drive a little further to North Palm Beach. It’s less presidential and there’s a motel along the highway. And nearby a watering hole cum munchery for an IPA and some bites.
The next morning a little over 200 km to Titusville. Landscape: largely the same as yesterday: Apartments abundant, some bombastic villas, no sign of life.
In Titusville we really get busy: in a laundry. Then …
… a visit to the historic downtown. Does definitely not take more than 10′ – it’s so small.
Ocala, 17th February
Time for more interesting stuff: the Kennedy Space Center.
We hope by now the guys developed some ideas on how we could continue our trip once we’ve arrived in Ushuaia. Maybe they even have an idea on how to get Prado in da outta space.
After having paid a hefty entrance fee we’re quite optimistic. All these beautiful rockets standing around. You get the feeling you’re in a supermarket, you just may choose whatever you need.
They put you in a bus of NASA – a sightseeing tour to explore the places where they launch all these beautiful rockets.
Already a few moments later we’re pretty disenchanted. Even if our bus driver – guide is not really explicit, it looks like NASA has not a single possibility to bring us in da outta space. They just show us some launch pads. Obviously, they belong to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, not to NASA. Maybe we better speak to him about our plans. But, who knows if he also takes a Prado in da outta space, not only his Teslas.
We continue searching. Visit the Atlantis Pavillon. An exhibition dedicated to the glorious space shuttle Atlantis. Well, we even discover the original shuttle. By now no longer used to transport whatever is needed in da outta space. It serves as a simple background for visitor’s selfies.
The shuttle would definitely have space to transport Prado. Nevertheless, it looks pretty old’n’used, Could we really trust this vehicle? And what would all these poor selfie-addicted tourists do if we borrow the Atlantis for a few days to go to da outta space?
Still, we have the impression we can’t find a real solution. Maybe it’s more useful to ask the Chinese what opportunities they currently offer.
On to San Augustin Beach. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly beach weather. But it’s ok for a walk until rain starts.
A short drive to nearby San Augustin. The town claims to be the oldest 1 in the US. Inspired by Spanish architecture. Nowadays developed and marketed to perfection by the inhabitants to attract a historic-addicted crowd. Maybe a little kitschy for foreigners, but a change from these endless condominiums along Florida’s coast.
Sneaking thru the alleys, we discover a terrible sign in a garden. Probably a very bad joke of a neighbor or a poor blind’n’deaf citizen who mixed up something. Who knows. Somebody may help this poor guy.
We drive on to Ocala, some 150 km away.
On the way an incredible lunch – the famous 1.64 $ hot dog at Love’s Service Station.
Not a gourmet’s delight for every day, probably 1 is enough for the next few months.
In Ocala we find a small motel.: The Shamrock Inn. Their rooms – you won’t believe it until you stay with them.
A visit to the nearby Silver Springs State Park. A small lake fed by artesian springs. And the place to admire them on a glass-bottom boat – unfortunately not incredibly impressive.
Somehow, the world above water is more interesting than the 1 under water.
Back to Ocala. Time for a beer. We need it to survive our beautifully decorated sleepery.
Isles of Capri, 19th February
The next morning a short ride to Florida’s Gulf Coast.
An opportunity to sneak along the beach at Honeymoon Island.
Next to the car park quite a crowd, …
… a little further out – next to nobody.
On to Treasure Island – on 1 of these islands off the coast of St. Petersburg.
Again, a drive thru a completely urbanized area – condos as far as the eye can see.
In the evening we’re informed that the parcel from Dubai with Prado’s new injection pump has arrived in Miami. We have to pay some VAT thru DHL and the day after tomorrow it should be ready for pick up. Thus, time to plan our return to El Salvador.
The next day we need to drive back towards Miami. Still along the Gulf Coast. Passing on the quite spectacular Sunshine Skyway Bridge connecting St. Petersburg with the mainland.
On the way a glimpse of the Everglades – at the Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary.
An opportunity to sneak thru the wetlands and to observe some animals. Even in a pretty urbanized manner.
Then on to Capri Island. A rather weird place. Not really at the sea, just surrounded by channels full of fishing boats. And 1 of the few places we found a sleepery with a more or less acceptable prize.
Fort Lauderdale, 22nd February
The next morning we’re on the way to Miami. Some 250 km away. We have to get our parcel with DHL – even if it remains a little bit unclear where it really is.
Strange but true, DHL could not really tell us to which place they sent the parcel to. On the phone they confirmed that it was delivered to our selected delivery point in Miami. Despite a different delivery address on the tracking list.
What the hell. In Miami, while asking them it quickly becomes clear that they don’t have anything. At least they can identify the recipient in Fort Lauderdale. Arriving there we finally get our parcel. Well, at least we’re flexible.
Dear DHL – simply get organized. That’s all we ask you for the money you ask for your services.
On to Fort Lauderdale Beach. A beer to celebrate that finally all worked.
We still have some time left until we fly back to El Salvador.
A possibility to drive down along the coast to Miami Beach.
A journey thru high rising buildings – almost all along the way southwards. Condos with extremely imaginative names. No idea what might be the motivation of all these guys staying here to spend at least a part of the year in such a place.
Rarely 1 of these small motels left which were typical for Miami Beach some decades ago.
Well, today they look a little bit out of this world – despite their efforts to adapt by renaming their simple motel into a resort&spa and creating a vegan’n’glutenfree ecofriendly environment.
Whatever. On to Miami Beach’s Art Deco District.
Formerly the playground of Mafia Capos, nowadays converted into the jungle gym for the upper 1 % of the society.
Then we’re on the way to Miami and back to Fort Lauderdale.
Well, last but not least – maybe a small warning to all driving a car in Miami:
Should you discover the car on the right driven by an extremely smart lady be careful and keep some distance. She may be quite aggressive, spreading the famous f… word to everybody who doesn’t want to hear it and showing signs that she’s somehow unhappy with her life. And more important – her driving style is a bit unusual und eventually not to healthy for your beloved car.
Simply – avoid her. You may socialize with other drivers. they’re definitely smarter.
San Salvador 23rd February
We’re on our way back. A huge queue at Fort Lauderdale’s airport to check-in, some intense socializing with the agent if we need to have a return flight even if we leave El Salvador with our own car. Fortunately, her supervisor has a clearer picture of the airline’s flexibility. An immigration control – the very 1st 1 we’ve ever experienced when leaving the US and soon later we’re enjoying Spirit Airline’s pre-inclined-seats-for-greater-comfort on the way back to San Salvador.
Salvadorian immigration awaits us impatiently. They want to know if we’re coming from China. We don’t, so we may stay for 3 months. Then customs. Want us to x-ray all the baggage. The very thing we’re not that keen to do with Prado’s injection pump in one of the bags. What to do. We pass without problems as they even don’t look at the screen of their huge X-ray machine . Quickly we’re out and on the way to town. Oooops we did it.
Enough for this post. We’re back to El Salvador. With the spare part. Thus ready to get prepared for the next leg of our journey.