Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Miami – Cincinnati

The airport awoke early, around 5, and we had to cut our sleep short. We waited until the daylight and ventured out. It was chilly. We took a bus downtown, in hopes of getting online in the public library. We got off at the central station and walked one block to the library doors. It was a scary walk. All kinds of crazy people were hanging out at that hour in downtown Miami. Black homeless old men, preachers on the empty street corners, grim-looking white men with tattoos on their faces… As we were walking by a white guy sitting in the flower bed, he got up and took of his shirt. His whole upper body was blue with gangster style tattoos. We looked straight and walked.
The library was not open yet, so we sat outside, watching a peculiar crowd gathering around us, waiting for the doors to open. Bob Dylan songs came to mind. There was a group of men near us and it sounded like they met here every morning, for a long time.
“So, you got a job yet, Bill?”
“No, nothing. I’ll check my facebook now though, you never know, maybe something came up there…”
“Yeah, you never know”
We were experiencing a strong cultural shock – everything was so clean, so perfect, the air was fresh, we understood the locals perfectly… It was a very strange Saturday morning for us.
Finally, the library opened and everybody went in. Many people headed straight for the couches, lied down and fell asleep. We followed the majority to the internet station. Unfortunately, as guests, we were only allowed 15 minutes each. After we explained our nature to the librarians, they probably thought we were just as crazy as most of the visitors at that hour.
“You are gonna do what? Hitchhike to Canada? Oh my God, you are going to die. Do you realize that it is very cold up there? Do you really need to go there?!”
We briefly told them about out trip up to date. Their disbelief quickly changed into a strong desire to help.
Julio the librarian opened Google maps on his computer and plotted a public transit system route to a truckstop outside of Miami. He did a good job and we followed the directions. It was a shock to us that you could do that.
“Do you guys need Internet time?” he asked, “here is an hour, if it is not enough, tell me”.
It looked like it was going to be a busy day: we had to get to the truckstop before sunset, buy food and eat and also buy some warm clothing and rubber boots for the cold temperatures up north.
It was 8 pm when we got off at the end of the line of the seventh public transit bus we took that day. We were loaded with two new sweaters from Goodwill each, and a shiny new pair of rubber boots was attached to each backpack. We had bread and peanut butter for food and we were exhausted. The truck stop was still 5 miles away (about 9 kms). We started walking in its direction when suddenly an ideal camping spot looked straight at us. We waited for cars to pass, then quickly rushed into the bushes and set up our tent not 5 meters away from the road. After a couple of gulps of mediocre Venezuelan rum we fell asleep fast and woke up with the birds chirping in the fresh morning air of North America.
When we approached the truck stop we saw a lot of motorcycles parked at it. It was a weekend motorbike show, and tough looking white men and women were sitting around. Most wore black leather and Confederation flags could be seen in many places. People sipped Coca-Cola and discussed biker stuff. We did not hang around too long there, eager to hitchhike north.
After only 15 minutes, a van pulled over. The passenger window was open and we could see three Hispanic physiognomies smiling at us.
“A donde vas?” (where are you going?)
We got a ride with an illegal bus line servicing illegal immigrants in the US of A. The driver had no license and was living out of his van for the last three years. People would call him and he would drive wherever his customers wanted to go. After we got in, we headed to a trailer park to pick some people up who were headed to Atlanta. 6 short, stubby Guatemalans got in. It took them a while to load their belongings in the back. After a while they succeeded though and we were off.
We dropped off and picked up more people as we zig-zagged around Fort Myers.
The guys were very careful not to attract any attention to themselves. The driver drove 5 miles under the speed limit and when we stopped to refuel people got in and out as fast as they could, always closing the door behind them.
When the night fell, the driver asked us if we can drive.
“I haven’t slept for three nights, I am really tired” he said.
Of course, the least thing we could do to help him was to take over the wheel. We dropped the passengers off at a lonely cabin in the woods of Southern Georgia and then continued empty onto Atlanta. The driver happily snored in the back seat while we took turns driving on the wide and straight highway 75.
As the light drove away the night, our driver woke up and took the wheel. He dropped us off on the outskirts of Atlanta and was off to Colorado to pick up his next clients.
“Thank you so much for driving,” he said,”you have really helped me out. I think I would have crushed tonight if it wasn’t for you”
We took busses across Atlanta pretty much in the same way we did in Miami: bus to library, plot the route, follow directions, walk to the on ramp.
As we were walking, an SUV slowed down and opened a window.
“Heading north?”
“Get in!”
Craig was cool. He was only heading a few miles up the highway, but he invited us into his home to watch some TV. We accepted and watched a documentary on cocaine trafficking and M-19 in Columbia on the Marijuana Channel. Unfortunately, as the story came to the culminating point, Craig had to go, so we had to leave. He was very kind to give us a lift a few exits further up the highway. He dropped us off at a nice forested off-ramp.
It was already late and we did not feel like traveling any further that day. We were falling asleep on our feet.
We walked a little ways away from the highway, climbed a small wooded hill and pitched our camp just behind the top of it. The forest was absolutely beautiful. Pines, oaks and beeches stood silently and the floor was entirely covered by leaves shed the previous autumn. We laid down on the soft blanket of dry rustling leaves and took in the beauty of these stately black trunks. Not a banana palm to be seen.
It rained heavy at night but as it usually happens, as soon as we woke up and we ready to get out of the tent, the rain stopped. We had breakfast and hot Venezuelan coffee in the cold wet misty morning. We put on our new rubber boots and walked to the on-ramp.
Three hours have passed before we got a short ride to a rest area not 10 miles ahead. There, only 30 minutes of waiting before Libby picked us up. She and her husband (in another vehicle) were coming home to Cincinnati from their winter holiday in Mexico. Libby invited us to stay with them for a day, an invitation we surely accepted. So here we are now, sitting in a condominium downtown Cincinnati, typing up the blog. It is cold and rainy outside, but all our things are freshly washed and dryed, we have just had a delicious American breakfast and we are full of eagerness to reach just one more border, into Canada, this time!


  1. marijuana channel! амеерикааа

  2. haha yea I was gonna mention the marijuana channel as well. awesome.
    glad the US has been good to you :)

  3. Falta poco chicos!
    Llegaran pronto! Suerte and stop drinking Venezualian rum...

  4. It was a pleasure to have your company. I look forward to seeing you in Cincinnati again.