March 11, 2008

80 Degrees with a Slight Breeze
Miami Beach, United States

Miami feels wonderful—like I just climbed out of a pile of garbage and into something far better.

With the exception of arguing with airport gate staff regarding their policy to prohibit all liquids of any kind on our Spirit Airlines flight (not even water purchased after the security checkpoint), we flew into the United States and passed uneventfully through customs and immigration (Tatiana receiving her typical six-month stamp). Aidric didn't cry once, and Tatiana made sure to breastfeed him during takeoff and landing to keep any pressure change in his ears from causing him discomfort. Aidric's a natural traveler.

I could hardly believe the Spirit Air crew was forcing a hand-inspection at the gate of everyone's carry-on luggage before we boarded, though. They were confiscating all liquids of any size, claiming the United States doesn't allow such things on incoming aircraft (which I'm sure is complete lie). We fought and won to bring a bottle of water onboard for Aidric's purposes.

Frankly, I'm beginning to think that there's a strong link between TSA liquids security nonsense, and budget airlines that charge $5 for a bottle of water (with no free alternative to consume). I'd love to see a chart depicting the increase in sales of onboard beverages as it relates to TSA lockdowns. Not to sound like a conspiracy nut, but I wonder if there are some schnanagins/under the table kickbacks going on here.

One of the issues that we had to deal with upon our arrival in Miami was that we've got to take the public bus everywhere we go. Walking and juggling a train and bus was less than fun when we arrived after a marginally sleepless night with two backpacks, two 45-pound duffel bags, Aidric, and his (collapsed) wooden bassinet.

Not only can we not afford taxi service in this country, but Florida state law proclaims that Aidric can't ride in any vehicle other than a public bus without a car seat. That means there's always a possibly we'll get stranded somewhere if the bus service runs out at night and no taxi will take us because they don't want to take the risk.

Around South Beach

Miami's South Beach shoreline

We've landed in a 1-star hotel with a weekly rate that's pretty nuts (about $40/night after discount, because the Chilean owner knows Tatiana from when she stayed here for a spell in 2006), but the location is only a block away from the great South Beach shoreline. It's the kind of place where so many coats of paint have been put on the doors and frame that nothing really closes anymore.

Location aside, the upside is that we've got hot water on demand, and I can poach a very weak WiFi signal in our room for free Internet. These are basically my only two requirements for long-term sustainability.

There's some couple leaving within a week and I'm told we're getting put into their (bigger) room, which is apparently the best in the building. That room was recently remodeled, and should have a phone, as well as a stronger Internet signal.

Miami is like a super-clean mixture of all of Latin America. Most everything spoken is in Spanish here, including all the ordering at dinner tonight. The seawater is still much too cold to swim in, but the beach still looks better than anything found in South America.

Miami Beach is just as cheesy as any movie makes it out to be. There's an overabundance of chest hair, implants, Spanish, neon lights, expensive cars, and flamingo-pink buildings. But this place has great weather and beaches with plenty of eye candy to keep one entertained.

I like Florida. I was born in this state, and feel naturally comfortable here. Life is good.




March 16th, 2008

I think you were being scammed by over-zealous airport staff on the liquids thing.

I've flown from Canada to the US and back more than once since the new liquids regulations came into place, and have never had a problem bringing in my ziploc baggie full of less-than-90mL bottles and drinks bought after security. There also should be no restrictions on baby formulas, either.

I wouldn't doubt that there would be some kind of 'agreement' between the airline and the airport staff…..

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