I was to go via 2 airports before arriving at Miami, the first being Boston. Here I was met by an extraordinarily stern security guard. He found my story that I had booked to fly down to Miami, via his own cherished city, without even giving consideration as to where I was going to stay, questionable, and he sent me to immigration control. “Follow the blue line, sir!” he barked, which I did, not a little sheepishly.
Here in immigration, I was asked to first pick up my baggage from the hold. All of the bags came through, and mine was not among them. One of the baggage handlers told me that it had probably been sent on to Miami, which in a way was fortunate, as it meant the immigration people in Boston could hardly hold me there, with nothing really to go on. If they had been able to search my bag, they’d have found my medication, which might have meant I’d be in trouble, as I’d stated on the immigration form that I did not have any illnesses.
And so I continued on my journey. I was now on American soil, and in the company of many Americans. The first thing that struck me was their size. The American people really are pretty big. Both in height and girth. Particularly, girth. Fuck, these people are fat. And looking around, I must admit, I also thought, pretty fucking dumb looking as well. And there was something fake about them too. Kind of soul-less. So, succinctly put, fat, dumb, and without souls – yes, they really do live up to the stereotype.
Having said that, I would also say as well, they seemed to have an honest sense of humour. Take the air hostess on my first flight for example – she deliberately missed me and Colm out when serving the food for a joke, something I can’t imagine a British Airways flight attendant doing. And throughout my stay, I found that they were not at all afraid to speak their mind, which I found refreshing. Perhaps the “free” as in “land of the” refers to free thinking.
When I finally arrived in Miami, I discovered that in fact, my bag had not been sent on. It had never been sent at all. That is to say, it was still in London. Quite how this had happened, I wasn’t sure, but the baggage people in Miami assured me it would be sent on the next day, even on to my hotel if I wished. “If you could just fill in your hotel details, sir.” Obviously, at this stage, I still did not have these details – my plan, and the story I was sticking to, was that a helpful taxi driver would assist me in finding a suitable place to lodge – so I took their number, intending to contact them as soon as I woke up next day.
By now, it was around 11pm. With the time difference, it had indeed been close to 24 hours since I’d set off. I got in a taxi, and asked to be taken to a nearby, cheap hotel, as had been my plan. I was taken to the Miami Springs Motel, which was just $40 a night. I must admit, this was still a little more than I’d been planning on spending, but I was soon to discover that I’d vastly underestimated the cost of hotels in this part of the world. Greeting me on arrival was a helpful manager by the name of Eric, and his dog, Chocolate. I don’t think they had too many visitors from the UK turning up in the middle of the night, but Eric did quite a good job of hiding any surprise he might have had. He showed me to my room. It was a shabby kind of room, with an ancient portable TV in the corner, but unexpectedly, it was in fact “en suite” with a separate shower and loo. All I really wanted though was sleep. I thought about what a mad trip this was, and how far I now was from home. I noted the mirror mounted to the ceiling above the bed and reflected that perhaps I was really supposed to have company to merit this addition to the room. I began to wonder if the men talking outside were ever going to fall quiet, before I quickly fell to sleep.