20 September - 20 October 2012
Obviously Florida is not part of Caribbean, but it's easier for presentation purposes.
I acquired the plane ticket to Miami back in January, so it was nice to finally start my round-the-world bicycle/backpacking trip - though a bit of a tough start. The plane would leave Copenhagen early morning, so check-in was in the middle of the night. As I had to bring my bicycle in a big cardboard box my brother-in-law was nice to bring a trailer and drive me to the airport around midnight - and then it was just waiting. Being amongst the first to check-in I was fortunate to sit on first row without a declining seat in front of me – always nice on long flights having long legs. However, it was also the ”baby-row”, so I didn't get much sleep, but you can't have everything.... In Miami I got my luggage – happy that the bicycle was intact. A bit of a challenge manoeuvring the big box around the airport, but I got a lot of attention. In customs they wanted to scan the box but it was too big for the scanner, and nobody desired to open it and do a manual check – an odd procedure....
My friend Brian was nice to pick me up at the airport and drive me along the famous Alligator Alley to Naples on the West coast where he lives with his wife Christina. I met them both when diving in Utila, Honduras, a couple of years ago. Awesome people who also agreed to store my bicycle until I come back in Spring 2013 and start my trip across the US. Before arriving I thought about bicycling to Key West and going to the Everglades, but I totally underestimated the time it took to get this homepage up and running, so I spent almost all my time working on that and preparing practical things for the bicycle trip. Activities were limited to a short visit to Fort Myers Beach, attending a fund raiser for an ill family member and going to church one Sunday. The latter was an interesting experience because it was so different from Denmark. The church was a trialor, the atmosphere very informal, the songs cheerful and the priest telling people to stop complaining and take responsibility for their own lives – afterwards cake, basketball, etc. It felt more like a family get-together than a service. A similar approach in Denmark might increase the number of churchgoers to more than a few.
Later I was back in Miami couchsurfing first with Mexican Andrés - only 25 but very interesting because he was reflecting a lot on himself and life after a long trip to South America. We visited South Beach and neighbouring streets and attended Gallery Night in the Design District. One day I borrowed his bicycle and drove to Key Biscayne - though the bicycle was much too small it was a nice day trip to the state park and lighthouse; besides water and mangroves not so much to see besides some iguanas, coatis and peacocks.
After Andrés I couchsurfed with Andrew and Evie in Miami Shores a bit north of town. More interesting conversations as Andrew (being my age) is also in the process of finding a new purpose in life. Despite working hard on launching the homepage, I found time to borrow Andrew's bicycle to go around the area – very nice with all the parks, in-lakes, beaches and coastline and also I found out a few things about bicycling in the US. Despite Miami probably being one of the cities with most bicycles pr capita, they are definitely not used to bicycles, though my first impression is that people are quite considerate and in general also very friendly waving and nodding. Another thing is that there are not short-cuts - every road, alley, pathway, etc. is eventually blocked probably to prevent people from moving around too freely (intruding?). It's too early for me to say if this precaution is relevant, but the fact that it's there says a lot about the society. Finally, I noticed that its quite hot bicycling primarily because of the humidity.
And talking about hot, the weather in Florida has been so-so – hot and humid especially in Naples where it rained a lot. Brian and Christina are living in what used to be the swamps, and some days the water was like a moat around the house elevated on the ground. According to their neighbour it was nothing compared to other years, so maybe a houseboat is preferable....