Tuesday, June 15, 2010

UK Travelogue, Part 2: Miami Vice

DAY TWO: Sunday, May 30

We awoke to a brilliantly-sunny Miami morning. Quick showers (during which Bethany wrestled mightily with the cap of the complementary hotel shampoo and still failed to open it) preceded another delicious breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Then it was time to don our sunglasses and sally forth into the nearly-oppressive heat of South Florida.

And jump around in it, of course.

Our first priority was to get some jump shots with the Port of Miami in the background, possibly making good photographic use of the line of American flags in the background.

Still Stateside

Very shortly after our jump session began, a moderately-hung-over hotel guest, cigarette and coffee in hand, offered to take a shot of the two of us together. In her fragile state, her goodwill lasted for two shots (neither of which featured both of us in the air at the same time, despite her very firm advice that we both needed to “jump at the same time”) after which she wandered away to nurse her head in peace, and we continued onward to seek further adventures.

Random passerby attempts to take a Jumpshot for us.  Bless her heart, she was still hung over.

Not much later, after having jumped through one of the hottest mornings of the summer thus far, we both concurred that perhaps we wouldn’t mind the cooler climate of the UK after all.

Driftwood Leap

Modern Dance

Jump Miami!

False advertising

As we’d both made a personal goal to spend little to no money during this unplanned stay in Miami, the Bayside shops offered no temptation for us, but we walked through them anyway for lack of anything better to do. One store in particular was of interest: a store called “Art by God” which featured elements of nature and natural wildlife turned into works of art. One of the salesladies made the mistake of asking me what we were doing out and about so early on a Sunday morning and was then treated to a truncated version of our plight, which I realized very shortly she had neither interest in nor sympathy for. In pity for her, I desisted mid-story and we left the shop.

(Bethany has just pointed out to me that I forgot to mention that the clerk was wearing a despised Twilight shirt. I probably didn’t mention it because I failed to notice it in the first place.)

Earlier in the morning, Bethany had texted a contact of hers who lives in Miami, a barn manager named Justin. He’d been quick to agree to pick us up and show us the sights around the city, but then something came up (a “crazy client,” according to his text, who was making the simple one-hour job of trailering a horse into quite a production) and he had to beg off.

We made do with sitting in the window seat of our 11th floor room, alternately playing cards and looking down on the pool and people watching. Any by people watching, I mean mocking.

The Windowseat

And lest you think we were being unkind, let me assure you that these people were doing things that were well-deserving of our mockery. We enjoyed contrasting the behavior of the matter-of-fact Asian tourists (and their obsession with sunscreen and hats -- really, why bother going into the sun at all?) with the letting-it-all-out Spaniards, who gallivanted around the pool, having all seemed to taken personally the Miami adage “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”

It made us both happy that although we do live in Florida, we don’t live in this particular part of Florida. Our area may be overrun by retirees who cannot drive and refuse to learn how to use roundabouts, but I find that personally preferable to the Miami mentality, which seems to thrive on overt displays of sexuality and wealth.

At any rate, despite the fact that our flight was not going to be leaving until 9P.M. (if indeed it left at all) we were made to check out of our room at 2:00P.M., at which time we plopped down in some cozy chairs in the lobby and surrounded ourselves with our own version of suitcase Stonehenge.

And we began to fear that this suitcase Stonehenge may be the only version that we would be seeing. Thanks to a little help from Google, I’d stumbled across the horrifying suspicion - via a website with a faulty date, but at the time how was I to know that - that while we’d been grounded the night before, Iceland’s volcano had let loose once again, spewing ash over Europe and disrupting all air traffic.

“We may not get to leave at all!” I wailed to Bethany, who met the news with a prosaic shrug, screwed her earpieces into her head, and calmly listened to music. Meanwhile, I sat across from her in the lobby alternately fuming, pouting, and sending up little panicked prayers. “This trip can’t be canceled!” I squawked in Bethany’s general direction. “I’ve put so much work into this trip!”

“I can’t hear you,” she said loudly, smiling in such a way as to let me know that she’d put her headphones on for that express purpose. She then tipped her head back and closed her eyes, letting the afternoon sunlight filter down through the lobby skylight and bathe her in a calm, soothing glow.

Meanwhile, I sat there fully prepared to fret away the next three hours until our airline representative came either to pick us up and take us back to the airport or came to deliver what was bound to be disappointing news.

As usual, the news was nowhere near as dire as I had anticipated. In point of fact, it was not dire at all. The airport shuttle not only arrived on time: it came a few minutes early, and we all quickly bustled aboard with an excited sense of expectancy, only to sit idling in front of the hotel for nearly half an hour waiting on latecomers. But never mind. We were actually on our way back to the airport! They wouldn’t go to the trouble of sending us all the way back there if all flights to Europe were indeed grounded…. Would they?

The line to check in with AirEuropa was massive, but not to worry. There were more than enough interesting people to hold our attention until our turn came. And who should we get as our check-in assistant but our old friend from the night before, whose name turned out to be Diego, even though when we saw him, I’d told Bethany I had remembered his name and that it was Javier.

Diego even remembered us from the night before, asking how our stay at the hotel was and joking “Are you ready to go to Europe now?” We all had a laugh together.

Meanwhile, I noticed the cast-footed woman and and her husband over at the business class counter, arguing heatedly with the check-in staff. I'm so glad she's not my travel partner, I thought unkindly.

All was fine until he was putting luggage tags on our bags: “Madrid is your final destination?” he asked in a confirmatory sort of way.

“No,” I corrected emphatically. “Our final destination is London.”

A few blinks from Diego at the computer screen, and then he said, “Well, I’m really sorry guys, but I can’t check you or your bags through from this end.” Pause during which he waited for our response and my brain started melting. “So you’ll have to get your bags and re-check in when you get there, guys. I’m really sorry.” And he was really sorry, too. I could tell.

But something came over me. I felt the front of my face freezing into a grotesque mask while my ears burned bright pink. I don’t remember what I asked, but it was no doubt something intelligent, like “What…?” So Diego repeated the entire thing again, ending with “I can’t check you through.”

“Well, who can?” Bethany tried a new track.

“Nobody on this end,” he seemed more apologetic than ever. “Our computer system can’t communicate with theirs on that end. I’m so sorry.”

Here was the point at which I felt it prudent to say something helpful. “I’m never flying AirEuropa again.” I said.

“I wouldn’t blame you. I’m so sorry, guys, I know you’re getting really crappy service.”

But I couldn’t let up. I didn’t mean to keep going on and on, unloading on nice Diego, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. “But we have a connection in Madrid! We have to go through customs, then get our bags, then go to ticketing…. We’re going to miss our connection!”

“Ruth, forget it, let’s just go.” Bethany ushered me away from the counter, saving Diego from another round with the verbal Vesuvius that I had become. At some point, I must have realized that I was giving him a hard time, because I remember turning and saying to him over my shoulder, “I’m not mad at you…. I’m mad at The Man,” which is one of the more ridiculous things that I have said, possibly ever.

We turned in our luggage at the end of the check-in station (no automated luggage-moving system for Europa) and then fumed our way across the terminal toward our gate. Where we waited. And waited. And waited.

About a half an hour before our plane was supposed to take off (at 9:00pm) I started to get antsy, wondering why they had not at least begun to board. Then I looked at the monitor and saw that the scheduled departure time had been pushed back to 9:30pm.

As it was, we didn’t take off until after 10:00. The only good thing that I can say is that AirEuropa sent Diego down to call boarding and help check tickets, which meant that I got to clear my conscience by apologizing to him. So that was something.

AT LAST, we were on our way over the Atlantic, headed at least in the right general direction. I popped in a sleep aid, curled up sideways in my seat, and prepared to sleep the flight away.

2 comments:

  1. I can see that if I ever get to go to Europe, AirEuropa is NOT the way to go!

    ReplyDelete
  2. SO TRUE! Learn from our experience!

    ReplyDelete