23 – 28 September 2010
It was an overnight flight to Fort Lauderdale, I arrived in the morning and took the public bus which stops right in the Fort Lauderdale airport into town. I managed to make my bus transfer and eventually got to Hollywood beach, less than two minutes later I was at the Hollywood Beach Hotel and Hostel. The checking in process was an oddly bizarre mixture of positives and negatives, I had to wait an hour to check in but when I finally was allowed to check in they upgraded me from hostel status to a shared hotel room where we had our own fridge, kettle, toaster and bathroom. I was actually staying with a couple of guys from Niger who were representing their country at the United Nations on emigration policy.
I decided to utilise my bus day pass and set off in search of ‘downtown’, it turned into something of a mission and I never really found what I was looking for; some people told me there wasn’t really a centre to the place, others told me it wasn’t a good idea to walk down there… Eventually someone recommended I take a bus to the beach where there were cafes, bars and people; this was probably what I wanted so I made my way there and had a walk along the beach. It was what I’d expected from a Florida beach with large board walks and small bathing suits, without the crowds I’d anticipated but it was a weekday after all. On my way back I stopped off at a supermarket and bought some groceries for the next couple of days and a pack of beer. I’d picked up a bit of a sniffle and by the time I was on my bus back to the hostel with my beer I was starting to feel a real cold coming on; perhaps the beer wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Fast forward through four days of pretty much just sickness but with a few events that deserve mention. Essentially this cold hit hard and fast; after my first night in the hotel room I moved into the hostel dormitory where my cold/flu kept me awake pretty much all of the first night and my coughing, spluttering and nose blowing certainly would have kept a number of people around me up most of the night to! In the morning I certainly had a lot of people anxiously asking me how I was feeling and the funny Mexican in the bunk below mine commented on how he thought I was dying, he described how he spent the night trying not to turn over or make noise lest he disturb me; which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering the racket I was making but was amusing all the same. I spent my days either in bed, or during the times when I was feeling slightly better I walked the two minutes to the beach and sat in the sun.
One of the scarier incidents I had while sick occurred one night after I had actually been feeling a lot better that day. Myself, the crazy old Mexican dude in the bunk below mine, a slightly older but somewhat less crazy Colombian who now lives in Canada, a cool American guy who had done a lot of travelling in South America and a beautiful Russian girl who the Mexican had been shamelessly hitting on spent the day chilling on the beach. I wasn’t drinking but everyone else got pretty drunk and had a right jolly time. Although I still had a noticeable cold I had been feeling better, but by the time it came to crawling up to my bunk I had regressed, I was feeling physically cold despite the Florida weather. I found myself literally shivering and although I already had an extra blanket I got out my sleeping bag and crawled inside under my sheet and double blanket setup! My body was shivering but with my head under the blankets I started to warm up and managed to get to sleep. Probably in the early hours of the morning I woke, my body had obviously adjusted and I now found myself in a sleeping bag under multiple blankets in Florida; I was sweating like a pig. I crawled out feeling very hot and pretty sick and headed across the room to the bathroom, on the way the room started to spin and blackness closed in till there was just a little white speck in the distance, I grabbed onto the sink and ran the refreshing cool water over my hands, neck and face and waited for my head to clear and my eyes to re-focus.
Feeling a little better but now conscious of my headache I made my way back across the room to the bunk bed; I wanted a painkiller but was uncertain if I should take one given my current condition and the previous cold medication I’d already taken that evening. Deciding against a pain killer I leant against the upper bunk and contemplated the strenuous task of getting back up in my weakened and hazy condition. Again my head started to spin and blackness closed in, this was really not good. I steadied myself and tried to concentrate, I needed to keep away the looming blackness. I realised I hadn’t been successful when I came around sitting on the floor with my head leaning against a stool and my backpack, “what the?”, oh… My sore buttocks were my biggest clue that I’d fallen straight backwards onto the linoleum from standing. My head felt fuzzy but I was oddly comfortable, I wondered if I could stay where I was but then I felt the cold of the hard floor and I climbed to my feet. I realised that my head had cleared and I was no longer feeling near death; I put it down to a big adrenaline surge when I realised what had happened, I’d been sick enough to actually pass out.
So my time at the Hollywood Beach Hostel had been a mixed bag of surprises, at the end of the day it was a pretty good place to be sick though. I’d made friends with the American guy, Bishop, and he’d given me some tips on how to get a job in the super yacht industry in Fort Lauderdale if that was what I decided to do. He was heading to crew accommodation in Fort Lauderdale to look for work and I was seriously considering doing the same but decided I should check out Miami Beach first, so that was going to be my next destination.
So on the 28th, having felt strong enough the previous day to get some decent food down me, I embarked on the two plus hour public transport route to Miami Beach. My only regret was that I never felt well enough to drink my beer I’d bought the day I arrived.