Arriving at the US Fortification
Disembarking at Miami airport coming from Cancun, I was harshly welcomed a short distance from the gate by a tall, handsome stranger, who I would’ve found utterly fit if he wasn’t wearing a uniform. He probably smelled me coming out of the gate and as we made eye contact like ten metres ahead, I handed him my passport before he could ask for it with a friendly ‘hiya’, which was replied to with a stern ‘be-sure-to-be-intimidated’ look. Like a lot of folk in the uniformed professions, I’m sure he had this set idea about me; chick with dreads in not too fancy clothes, must be such-and- such, girl from the hood getting in some drugs or god-knows-what. I knew, although he tried very hard not to show it, that my British accent and me stating I worked as a media analyst after he asked after my profession, utterly confused him. He repeated ‘media analyst’, who knows for what reason, revealing he had no idea, like most people, what that entails. To keep his cool, he asked me who I worked for and I looked at him with an ‘as-if-me-mentioning-the-company-name-would-ring-a-bell! look’. When I mentioned the company, adding they were based in London, which of course didn’t ring a bell, he gave me back my passport as he had no further questions and/or was confused enough. I gave him a ‘you-weird-yank’ look, which was genuine, since I barely slept the night before and did feel a bit dazed and confused. While making my way to customs I came across another unfriendly uniformed creature, who didn’t reply to my greeting when I came to his window. He asked me stupid questions just to exercise an authority he doesn’t really have and seemed surprised when I took my passport, after he stamped it, without thanking him or saying anything in general. As if the universe wanted to show me that not all people in uniforms are twats, a member of staff at the metro and bus station was super friendly and helpful. He gave me a free ticket to get to Miami Beach, a 20- minute bus ride, just because he could. I doubt any tourist in London or Amsterdam would get such a reception when taking public transport from the airport.
Tidy Funky Yankee Land
After having spent four and a half months in Latin America, I was immediately struck by how clean and well organised the outside world looked. When reaching North Beach, the northern part of Miami Beach, a person, who seemed to be in his early 60s, got on the bus, set himself next to me and struck up conversation. He sounded eastern European and told me he had been in Miami since the mid 70s. He said he found hurricane Irma terribly exciting and if I knew, that it wasn’t a natural disaster and all engineered. We spoke some more on conspiracy theories before I asked him where I had to get off the bus, totally enjoying his eccentricity. When I reached the hostel, where I booked a dorm bed, I found it closed, as the place had suffered damage from hurricane Irma and I was directed to a sister hostel, that was close by. Besides a closed hostel and a few blown-over trees, I found little evidence of a hurricane having passed through Miami.
Treats of the Western World
After I had checked in, I took a hot shower with proper pressure. As Miami can be hot, they air-condition the shit out of every indoor space and that well-pressured hot shower was very much enjoyed and appreciated, as I hadn’t had a wash like that in more than four months. Besides enjoying a great shower, I could just flush toilet paper down the bowl rather than bin in, which is required pretty much all over Mexico and wider Latin America. To continue with the little joys of the western, ‘civilised’ world, I treated myself to a walking trip to Whole Foods, the hippy food supermarket chain. Although I never go to Whole Foods in London, my hippy-in-the-closet heart was absolutely delighted with so much edible hipster bollocks on offer and I went totally mental. I was only supposed to stay in Miami for one night, but at the till I paid a day’s minimum wage for all the wares I had eagerly scooped up.
Other Creatures of SoBe
At the hostel I got to chat with Miami resident Larry and fellow visitor José. Larry seemed to be at the hostel, because his own house had been affect by the hurricane. I first thought José, to be Italian, but he proudly stated he was from the Caribbean. I made a few guesses, but only when he hinted that his country was on an island that it shared with another country, I finally guessed right he was from the Dominican Republic. Larry had never left the United States and although he had travelled a fair amount in his country, he said he felt apprehensive travelling abroad. Not only speaking no other language than English, but also being black held him back. I told him, as a sister of colour that, although people can be prejudiced, the colour of his skin should not withhold him from travelling abroad. I told him about my experience with the-handsome-such-a-shame-about-the-uniform border person at the airport and that I’m pretty sure I confused the shit out of him. (I might be giving myself way too much credit here, but as you don’t catch that many travelling Dark Fairies, with whichever accent or nationality, I’d like to believe that this credit is due).