Wednesday, July 27, 2011


After 10 days at my new job I was sent to Guatemala. I love the idea of traveling, especially to faraway places, so I jumped at the opportunity. There was an extra attraction in that, since the return flights were full, I would "have" to spend a day in Miami. I was looking forward to my trip to Guatemala, but was also very curious how the return to the US would be.

Horrible, huh? (got the pic here)

On the way to Guatemala I had a short layover in Miami and was bit frustrated that it did not feel special or anything. Besides the long immigration lines (come on... for 2 hours at the airport?) and rushing to the next gate since my earlier flight was late I did not see or feel much about the whole thing.

Then I'm off to Guatemala, where I spend 4 days at an amazing hotel in boring meetings and manage to crunch in some shopping time before hopping in the cab to take me back to the airport. Not the best way to get to know the country, but...

And then I find myself in Miami. First things first, rent a car. I did not want to do it online since I only have a Brazilian driver's license and not an international permit, so I was wondering whether they would accept it. When I asked the guy at the counter about it he replied with a question: "Do you have a credit card? If so, you are all set..." Ah, letting cash talk makes great advances here. Soon I am off to find the hotel and about 10 miles later realize that the GPS is not on, and the directions it was giving me were a simulation... 20 miles later I arrive at the hotel: beachfront room view in Miami Beach. Not bad at all. But when I am checking in they swipe my card and... nothing! The damn thing demagnetized! And I needed a credit card to pay for incidentals and nothing could be done without it. Somehow they swiped and accepted my Brazilian debit card (a last ditch effort on my side to produce another card) and as soon as that was over I was in their good books again. But this posed a great problem: how to go shopping without a credit card and without being able to take money out at an ATM? Well, an issue to be dealt with the next day, as I had dinner at the hotel to avoid further trouble.
Hotel view... just A. was missing...

Next day comes around... I try my card at 5 atms and 4 banks to no avail. Then, at a last attempt the final bank offers to do a cash advance! Ta-da! Green bills are soon in my pocket and now I can have breakfast and lunch! I head off to Marshalls for some sale shopping and then, at the counter, realize I spent more money than I had withdrawn. But it goes by easily, with the clerk simply typing in the credit card numbers instead of swiping it. Why didn't the hotel do that? Then came Ikea and soon it was time to head back to the airport. As I was driving back, listening to NPR I wondered about my friends, a few states up North and I realized that it was not the US I missed, but the people I met there. Of course there are several positives about the country, most obvious is the ease to get things done, but there is nothing pulling me this way. At least for now :)

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