A day in the life of the international traveller.
- Wake at 7.30am and head for breakfast. Wife has last day of strategy meetings. I amuse myself wandering hotel and checking in on National Bar Association 88th national convention. Meet a lady whose family hails from Seaford Town, but she’s not blond, blue-eyed, or white. Funny.
- Check out of hotel and wait for the strategists to finish. Talk more to Miami resident about life in the city, its racial tensions, especially.
- Leave Miami Beach hotel at 12.45pm, with almost 4 hours to spare before departure; allowing 2 hours ahead for check in at airport, there should be no problem. Right? Let’s see.
- 30 minutes to go 1/2 mile as traffic blocked from hotel to road leading to airport, all because of one lane blocked by road works. Arrive at Miami International Airport close to 1.30pm. Still plenty of time.
- Drop off wife and bags, and friends whom we’d taken to airport. I head to ‘rental car center’, following green signs from terminal.
- Once round airport to same starting point. Another trip round, following signs to go straight but heading down to parking lot, because I thought I had misread the signs. I realise my error and try to back up into traffic, and follow signs again. I end up again at same start point…
- Once round again and follow signs for airport exit, but ask a cab driver where to go. He tells me a road name and suggests I go through taxi drop-off area. I’m met by a policeman. I explain my quest.
- “Get off at number 3,” he says. Number 3 what? I ask. “Number 3”. I have visions of The Prisoner. I head off again, looking carefully for ‘Number 3″. I see it!
- A ramp sign marked ‘3’ pointing to a freeway exit, and below the road name is ‘Rental Car Center’ but well disguised by tree branches. Pure genius!
- I follow ramp and eventually find rental car lot. I deliver car and head back to terminal on the monorail, where I arrive at 2.15. Still plenty of time. Gate agent hears my story and agrees about the crazy signage, saying it’s been reported many times but no action by local government.
- My wife tells me that my ticket is booked for tomorrow, not today, but…she’s rebooked me for later flight today at 7.45pm.
- We go to eat. We buy some essential island wear. If I had not known better, I would have thought this was for ‘comfort’.
- She heads to her gate; her flights at 4.40. I head to the lounge. I see a family of 6 (3 couples) wanting to enter but without enough privileges for guests. I offer to put two of the guests on my card, stipulating that I will request having my choice of the women to do with as I please. One woman suggests that I take all three of them 🙂 I agree. We laugh and explain the solution to the men, who wish me good luck.
- My wife sends me message that she has just been given upgrade to 1st class (she has status), as flight was overbooked in economy 🙂 She suggests I get on upgrade list (I have no status :-)).
- I ask to be put on upgrade list: I’m #1. Airline assistant tells me that two seats have opened up on the same flight as my wife, but I cannot switch because I have a checked bag. Bah! I visualise getting a bowl of hot nuts for supper on the plane.
- I decide to go on Twitter and ‘converse’ with @iflymia about airport signage and my tour of airport. I get prompt reply and engage in back and forth on Twitter, then suggest email messages. I notice competition on MIA Twitter page, respond and win a prize! Woo-hoo!
- I read and write while awaiting flight. I reach gate at 7pm. Plane is delayed arriving. Crew eventually arrives. Plane takes off at 8.15.
- I have no status so am settled into window seat in economy. I read New York Times and am provoked by article on soccer and statistics; I write a critique.
- Plane arrives Kingston at 8.45, and am out of airport by 9pm.
- I see my family and put my daughter to bed at 10pm.
- I continue dialog with MIA official, who wants more details and promises to drive the route and see the problems; he also asks for input on how to improve services and use of Facebook and Twitter, which are new ventures. He needs my address to deliver my gift.
- I write this and plan to publish it. It’s 11.30pm.
Jamaica is much cooler on my arrival, after a shower and an approaching weather system. A short flight meant that I’m not exhausted. The plane was jammed full, as my wife’s had been. Tourists outnumbered by returning residents. Jamfest is on this weekend, but I suspect the arrivals for that were earlier in the week. The road is quiet on the drive home. Saturday night leads into Sunday morning and church for many. Have to head the way of all flesh as tiredness hits me.