Saturday, August 27, 2016

[BROWARD] The 36-Hour Fort Lauderdale Insomnia

I think I really just wanted to get out of Haiti ASAP, which made Florida look like a refuge of sorts, a place where I’d be doing nothing but chill. But the journey to my Airbnb place at Sunrise Boulevard proved to be a very long one. Landing at Fort Lauderdale late in the evening, the wait time was further exacerbated by the blockbuster lines at US immigration and customs, which added another hour or two all in all. I arrived at my Airbnb place after midnight after walking because I missed the last bus.

Fort Lauderdale is one of JetBlue’s hubs and the airport of transit to be if you are eyeing their affordable flights to the Caribbean and some select cities in Latin America. From here, you can fly for less than an hour to the Bahamas and as far south as Quito in Ecuador. I spent a total of four nights in Florida with my itinerary including Miami and Miami Beach, except that it didn’t really happen. Why so? Try asking the 36-hour insomnia that hit me when I landed.

Some people said it might have been due to jet lag, which I ruled out because the flight from Haiti took less than three hours despite the one hour jump ahead in terms of time zone. I managed to catch the #1 bus when I got out of the airport, but to the wrong direction. I almost ended up in Miami! I realized that halfway through and immediately got off, waited for the bus going the other way while munching on a Subway sandwich, and missed the last connecting northbound #50 bus by 10 minutes or so. Exercise time!

The route would have taken five minutes on the bus, but it was farther on foot. I was walking for half an hour and had to take a break at Circle T. The good thing about that neighborhood is that I felt safe walking down the streets. The only caveat was the heavy luggage I had to tug along with me. When I finally reached the Airbnb place, I thought I would be sleeping right away due to exhaustion. Little did I know that I would be up for the next 24 hours, on top of the 12 hours I already spent awake that day.

With my body clock fucked up, the afternoon hours dedicated to sightseeing in Miami were used up when sleepiness finally set in. Of the four nights I spent in Fort Lauderdale, a mere half an hour was spent on Fort Lauderdale Beach, where I didn't even stay long because the humidity was really annoying me. Add to the fact that I wasn’t really impressed with the beach itself. This isn’t really Florida’s main representative when it comes to beaches, although it’s the community activities that make it stand out.

The beach wasn't crowded that day. There were reclining seats lining up the shore but I didn’t know if they were free. The place was really chill. As opposed to being THE beach destination of the Sunshine State, I think it plays a bigger role as a neighborhood playground for those who reside in the area. I like Fort Lauderdale in the sense that I wouldn’t mind living there, but as a tourist destination, I think the counties neighboring Broward have more to offer.

Transportation was not an issue either. There are plenty of Ubers with a flat starting rate of USD 5. Buses have numerous routes and usually have a standard cost of USD 2, with both coins and bills accepted, even though they don’t give out change. Majority of the locals just drive, and this is the easiest form of getting around given the city’s simple grid layout, with most of its avenues being one-way, thus preventing traffic jams that could occur otherwise.

Miami can easily be reached from Fort Lauderdale, by the way. From Sunrise Boulevard, you only have to take the local #50 bus to Broward Main Terminal then transfer to the #1 Airport Bus headed to Aventura Mall. From there, you can then hop onto the Miami metro to either the city center or Miami Beach. This trip will just take you a little over an hour, and perhaps USD 5. Double both that time and amount if you are just planning to be there on a daytrip. Of course, you can fly out from Miami’s airport too.

In any case, I am not that sad not being able to go around Florida. With future plans of exploring more of Latin America, I’m pretty sure I’ll find myself here again transiting for a few days. I think I just need to plan my move properly. Or perhaps I can just wish that insomnia will not welcome me the second time around. As far as I’m concerned, this particular trip was well-planned until the unexpected happened. For now, I’m just glad that I’m back in the US for a while. The prodigal nephew is back, Uncle Sam! ;)

[BROWARD] The 36-Hour Fort Lauderdale Insomnia

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