When I got an offer of a place to stay and a car down in Florida a few weeks ago, I thought it sounded too good to be true. I needed to get my prosthetic lenses refitted by my optometrist in Ft. Lauderdale, so I jumped at the opportunity to go for just the cost of air fare and incidentals and bought an airline ticket.
When something sounds too good to be true…it’s probably too good to be true. Yep.
On my first day, I learned that I’d have to rent a car. My $400 trip became a $700 trip. I also learned that my hosts live in a gated community and you cannot simply come and go as you please, unless you are either with your host or have the proper gadget to open the gate, and that my hosts keep their doors locked all day and the alarm armed, you know, just in case one of “those” people sneaks in past the gate to cause trouble. Makes an early morning photo excursion all but impossible, as I discovered when I rushed out the back screened porch to photograph a bunch of herons in the yard. Never did get the photos I wanted, but I did manage to wake everyone up…much to their consternation.
I traveled back and forth to my appointments, half an hour away from where I was staying, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I spent a lot of time fixing a software issue on Thursday and Friday, finally getting things worked out late Friday evening. My host is one of those folks who cannot bear a quiet moment. Either Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity is tuned in at high decibel level, Pandora is blaring country music, or the TV is on full blast with Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, etc., all the live-long day. As I tried to concentrate on fixing the software problem, Johnny Cash belted out Ring of Fire over and over and over, making concentration all but impossible.
Saturday morning, my host informed me that he “didn’t realize” that I’d be staying two weeks. Before I accepted his invitation, I’d explained why it might take all of TWO WHOLE WEEKS to get my lenses fitted; I’d sent him my proposed itinerary; and then after I’d bought my ticket, sent it again. I was surprised, but not nearly as surprised as I was when he told me, “You’ll have to rent a hotel room starting Tuesday. It’s my fault, I didn’t listen, so I’ll help you out with the room.” The only reason I accepted their offer was so I wouldn’t have to spend money I don’t have!
Spring break has already started down here. Finding a room of any kind is no easy feat. I called around to all the discount hotels and motels in the area, but none had a room for the length of time I needed. Although I knew my usual place, Vistamar Villa, had no vacancies when I checked in January, I called anyway. Someone had just cancelled the whole month of March, and if I wanted it, the suite was mine. And that is how my $400 trip ballooned to $1800.
I moved over here yesterday into a lovely little one-bedroom apartment. The small hotel has a wonderful pool, is 300 yards from the beach, and has a quiet and relaxed atmosphere. As I carried my bags to my room, some of the regulars who come here every year at this time greeted me with a cheery, “Hello! Welcome back.” I felt right at home. Settling in, I felt as though I’d escaped from prison! I am free to come and go as I please, I can cook and eat what I like (my hosts didn’t cook; they either eat deli food or reheat cooked food from the grocery deli), and best of all, no one is constantly haranguing me with right-wing political propaganda and trying to pick a fight.
Yesterday morning, I finally had had enough, and when he commented for about the sixth time on what I was reading, “some liberal, leftist, commie stuff, no doubt,” I turned to him and said, oh, so softly, “What I’m reading is none of your f***ing business.” His sister, who is also staying there, cracked up. She’s a lefty-commie-pinko, too.
This morning, I ventured out early to take some pictures. Much of the town seems to be under construction, and even early in the morning, traffic is heavy. I made my way to my favorite beach, miraculously found a parking spot, and set out with my camera. My visit to the doc at 11 took only 20 minutes, leaving me an entire afternoon to play and hang out, process my photos and write a blog post without any pressure. Feels like I’m in paradise. Extra benefit, and the reason I’m actually down here—I have a new right lens that not only corrects my vision, but cleans up a lot of the “junk” I’ve lived with ever since I got toasted 14 years ago. Now, if we could get the left one to work, that would be wonderful!
P.S. His “help with the room doesn’t even cover two of the seven nights.